#IWSG: Taking Risks in My Writing?

IWSG

It’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) to meet. It is April, which means it’s time for the #AtoZChallenge too. For this reason, I am writing a lot. Not that I didn’t write much in March. I wrote 29 blog posts, which I’m rather content with.

I also have been loving looking at writing prompts again. Not that I’ve dared to actually write based on them yet, at least not on the fiction/poetry ones. Okay, maybe it’s not so much that I am too scared, as I could of course be writing just for myself. Then again, I usually write with an audience in mind, so maybe I’m still scared to write even just for me. However, I also find that I take on a lot with my blogging, maybe too much. Yesterday, I was up till 11PM blogging because I had to write something for the letter E in my #AtoZChallenge series. I really hope I’ll find both the time and courage soon to write something more outside of my comfort zone.

This brings me to this month’s optional question. It is whether you’re a risk taker where it comes to your writing. This could mean tackling subjects or genres that are outside of your comfort zone, but also it could mean talking about controversial topics.

The short answer to this question is, no, not really. I used to take risks with my writing several years ago, when I still often shared my views on disability rights and autistic advocacy. Now I hardly ever cover these topics in my writing anymore.

I originally started my current blog as a way to actually take a risk by writing from the heart. I also chose my domain name to reflect the fact that my alter personalities could write too. They hardly ever do anymore.

That being said, I do put myself out there with my writing. As a personal blog writer, I am very open about myself online. Maybe that’s taking a risk in itself.

Do you take risks when writing?

#IWSG: Favorite Genres to Read

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Welcome to another installment in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) meeting. This past month, I’d set my expectations pretty high and, as such, was disappointed. I participated in #Write28Days with the aim of writing each day. Not surprisingly, that didn’t work out. I wrote 23 posts over the month of February. I also didn’t really broaden my horizons with respect to writing. That is, most of my posts were securely within my comfort zone. I really hope to be doing better this month.

Now on to the March 3 question: Everyone has a favorite genre or genres to write. But what about your reading preferences? Do you read widely or only within the genre(s) you create stories for? What motivates your reading choice?

Let me begin by saying my writing comfort zone is pretty narrow. I mostly write personal essays, if that’s even what my blog posts can be called. I would really like to write a memoir at some point, but I’ve been telling myself and others that for many years and yet never got down to actually doing it.

When I do write creatively, it’s usually poetry or very short pieces of flash fiction. I used to write some short stories and even have a young adult novel that I started writing as a teen yet never finished and that’s incredibly unimaginative I think.

My reading preferences do partly match my writing preferences, in that my favorite genre to read is memoir. Next to that comes young adult fiction about real problems, like the aforementioned work in progress also is.

I also read books that I couldn’t possibly be writing myself. Oh wait, I can’t really write a book at all, but oh well. I mean, I’ve recently developed an interest in science fiction and the like. I also occasionally read romance novels.

I rarely if ever read traditionally published poetry. That being said, I do love to read poems published on other people’s blogs. Same for personal essays and flash fiction. I mean, I’ve read a few books that were basically anthologies of personal essays, but I prefer to check out blogs for those.

With respect to what motivates my reading choice, I’m a true mood reader. I read a pretty wide variety of books, but they have to suit my mood at that time. I usually choose books based on the blurb. I can’t see the covers, obviously and I rarely read reviews on Amazon or Apple Books. When I do read reviews, it’s on other people’s blogs.

What about you? What motivates your reading choice?

#IWSG: Bloggy Friendships

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Hi everyone again. It’s the first Wednesday of the month and this means it’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) to meet. I must say I did pretty well with respect to my writing over the month of January. I wrote a blog post almost everyday. Of course, at the beginning of the month, I planned to do even better. That’s usual for me. I hope with #Write28Days in February, it doesn’t go in the same direction.

For those visiting from the IWSG who don’t know what #Write28Days is, it’s a kind of restart of the original #Write31Days October challenge, in which you pick a topic and write about it for the entire month. Thankfully, randomness is a topic too and we aren’t currently required to even have a topic. The idea is just to write everyday. Hence, this post really counts for #Write28Days too. I may or may not write another one this evening.

In addition to writing pretty consistently over the past month, I also took some steps outside of my comfort zone. I wrote two pieces of flash fiction. Both were extremely short, under 100 words each. I’m not sure they count as actual pieces and not just exerpts. In that case, there is no broader story as of yet.

Now on to this month’s optional question. Today, the IWSG crowd talk friendships and relationships developed because of blogging. I don’t honestly think I have any though. That is, I consider carol anne from Therapy Bits and Emilia from My Inner MishMash my friends, but I can’t remember whether I first “met” them through blogging or through E-mail lists.

Maybe though, I can count my husband. After all, though we met via a message board, one of the reasons he contacted me to meet up was that he’d read my blog. This blog, I’ve since made private because of the spammy visitors.

Other than this, I don’t think I’ve developed any bloggy friendships. I also must admit I’m horrible with reciprocating visits. I just realized, in fact, that, in general, I’m not that good at keeping in touch with friends, be it through my blog, the rest of the Internet or in real life. I really need to improve on that.

#IWSG: Turn-Offs in Other People’s Writing

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Yay, it’s the first Wednesday of the month and you know what that means? It’s the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s (#IWSG) meeting day.

I did pretty well in the writing department over the month of December and early January. I in fact am feeling very motivated to write. That being said, I do feel disappointed about not having realized my bigger writing dream of 2020, which was to submit another piece for publication in an anthology. It’s probably due to fear of rejection. I mean, blogging is a relatively safe way of expressing one’s writing abilities, in that it doesn’t really come with rejection. I mean, if I start a blog and it’s a total failure, I just won’t attract any readers, but no-one is going to directly tell me.

For 2021, I once again aim to submit at least one piece for publication. I just can’t bear to say for another year that I’m a published author because of that one piece I had published in 2015. I can’t control editors’ selection criteria, but I’ll have to at least try one more time.

Now on to this month’s optional question. The question is what, as a writer, turns you away from other people’s books, makes you not finish a book or frustrates you about other people’s writing.

The first thing that came to mind, is not a style issue or a writing flaw, but factual errors in the story. For example, in Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern, one of the characters’ mother and sisters have sickle cell disease and the characters keep talking about how this character didn’t inherit “the gene” and how another disease is recessive, as if sickle cell disease is inherited via a dominant gene. Well, I am no geneticist, but I am pretty sure it’s recessive.

It isn’t that such an error stops me from finishing a book altogether if it’s an otherwise good story. I think I even gave the aforementioned book four stars on Goodreads and I definitely did finish it. It was the thing that kept me from giving it a five-star rating though.

In a similar way, I am usually slightly annoyed when authors invent things into their otherwise-realistic stories. For example, I didn’t like the fact that John Green invented a cancer drug for the purpose of the story in The Fault in Our Stars. I did feel better because he admitted it at least.

The one thing that does stop me from finishing a story, is an unrealistic portrayal of certain settings in a story that’s supposed to be realistic. For example, I stopped reading The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork as soon as I read that the character got daily therapy sessions. That’s not happening in any psych hospital. That is, it might’ve happened in the times of psychoanalysis in the 1950s, but currently there’s no money for that.

I think I really need to get more flexible in my approach to fiction. It is, after all, fiction.

#IWSG: Seasons of Writing

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Today is the first Wednesday of December and that means it’s the last #IWSG day of the year. It’s already late in the evening and I’m not too inspired to write on the topic of writing. I guess I wasn’t too inspired during the month of November at all. I mean, I didn’t have any blog challenges to participate in, so I didn’t write as much as I did in previous months. My private journal and Drafts, an app I use for my random pieces of fiction and poetry, also remained largely empty.

I find myself scrolling past the many writing and poetry Facebook groups I’m in an not even looking at them. It isn’t that I don’t want to write, but it’s probably that I feel my creative juices have more or less dried up and I don’t want to see others’ beautiful work when I’m not able to contribute any myself. Call me selfish for that.

November is a hard month for me. Perhaps the hardest of the year. November 2 marks the anniversary of my major mental health crisis (which happened in 2007). That, combined with some form of winter blues, often has me depressed during November. I often feel less inspired when I’m depressed.

This year, my November was okay writing-wise. In 2018 and 2019, I published significantly fewer blog posts in November than this year. Then again, I’m doing pretty well writing regularly this year overall.

I am not sure whether, with the exception of blog challenges such as the #AtoZChallenge in April, there are any months I consistently blog more or less than others. With respect to my fiction and poetry writing, this tends to go in spurts and then stands still for a long while. This is the case for all of my passions other than blogging.

#IWSG: Reasons for Writing

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It’s the first Wednesday of the month again and this means it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) to meet. I did pretty well in the writing department over the past month, although not as well as I’d hoped. I mean, I didn’t write a blog post for #Blogtober20, or at all for that matter, everyday. Particularly towards the end of the month, I was less and less motivated to write. Let’s hope for a good writing month for November then.

This month’s optional question is why you write what you write. Albert Camus is quoted as saying that the purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself. Such a fitting quote on the day after the fiasco that is U.S. election day. I don’t usually share my political views on here, but let me be very clear that I don’t support Trump. Now I must say that Biden is pretty far from my ideal president too, but at least he isn’t as much of an idiot as Trump. But I digress.

Flannery O’Conner, an author I’ve never heard of, is quoted as saying: “I write to discover what I know.” This resonates more with me than Camus’s reason. I mean, like I said, I don’t share my political views on here much. In case Camus means that the written word is everlasting, I doubt mine is. Though I’ve been able to conserve most of my writings from the early days of my online journal and before, I’m not sure they’ll last forever or even close to it. The Internet evolves faster than we know, after all. WordPress may not be here for the rest of my life, or even the rest of this decade. With its stupid decision to enforce the block editor, who knows how long it will be able to survive?

I can, in a way, relate to O’Conner’s idea of writing for discovery. Or self-discovery, in my case.

However, I don’t just write for myself. In fact, I cannot keep myself from writing with an audience in mind, even when I write in my own private diary. It’s been this way even years before I knew about the Internet. In a sense, I write to discover what I know, but also to share what I know. Maybe that’s a bit snobbish, but oh well.

#IWSG: I’m a Hobbyist Writer

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Welcome to another meeting day of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG). I wish I could share that I’ve been doing well in the writing department. Well, in some ways I have, but I still haven’t written the story I intended to write for Chicken Soup for the Soul. I’m not even sure I will, as somehow it seems so insignificant right now that we’re not in lockdown anymore and I can see my husband again. When I had the COVID scare a little over two weeks ago, I did want to write, but couldn’t find the motivation really.

That being said, in other ways I did pretty well writing-wise. I decided to join #Blogtober20 at the last moment. Of course, I couldn’t join earlier, as I didn’t know about the challenge until last week. So far, I’m doing well, writing a post each day. I’m not always sticking to the prompts, but that isn’t required.

On to the monthly optional question. The question is whether you consider yourself a working writer and, if so, what it means. Or if you consider yourself a hobbyist or aspiring writer, what that means to you.

I obviously am a hobbyist writer. I cannot even say that I’m an aspiring writer, because I haven’t submitted a piece in years. In fact, the only piece I ever submitted was the one accepted into the anthology on typed communication by autistics in 2015.

I did at one point list my blog as my place of employment on Facebook. Now I don’t, because I don’t want my family to read it. Not that they most likely will, and of course they can still find me if they truly want to.

Being a hobbyist writer doesn’t mean I don’t have goals. I mean, I participate in #Blogtober20 and the goal for that challenge is to write a blog post each day of the month. I also during the rest of the year have somewhat of a rule that I need to post at least twice each week. I don’t have set days to publish a post, but if I haven’t written anything for a few days, it tends to feel awkward.

Being a hobbyist writer also doesn’t mean I don’t care how my writing is doing. I got really excited when, last week, I got lots of comments on a few posts. I also feel disappointed when I get only one or two comments on a post. I love seeing my stats go well. I don’t use Google Analytics anymore, because I was struggling with it and didn’t want to pay the money for having it on my WordPress.com blog. However, my WordPress stats do mean something to me.

#IWSG: Choose One Author

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It’s the first Wednesday of the month again. Oh my, can you believe we’re already two-thirds through 2020? I can’t. In any case, the first Wednesday of the month is the #IWSG posting day.

I haven’t been doing as well as I’d hoped in the writing department over the month of August. Yes, I did post to this blog several times a week each week. I remember my husband at one point, when I was in the mental hospital and particularly lethargic, encouraged me to write one blog post each week. It’s been forever since I last struggled with that, but still, I want more.

I saw a few weeks ago that Chicken Soup for the Soul have a book coming out about tough times because of the COVID-19 lockdown. I thought of submitting a story about my husband’s and my forced lack of seeing each other for the first three months of quarantine. Still, I feel pretty insecure and fear rejection. I know, as a writer, rejection is part of the business and if you don’t try, you won’t succeed at all. I however struggle not to take rejection personally. I know that Chicken Soup just won’t notify you if you’ve been rejected, but still. The deadline is October 31, so I still have time.

Now on to the optional question. This month’s question is: if you could choose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why? This is a little hard, as I’m not a book writer, so really I’d have to go with someone to critique my blog. I would however still really like to at least write and hopefully (self-)publish my memoir. For this reason, I’m choosing foster care memoirist Cathy Glass. She wouldn’t really be my beta partner – more my writing mentor. Although I must say I’d love to beta read her memoirs too.

In addition to memoirs, she also writes thrillers under the name of Lisa Stone. I’d really love her to teach me how to write fiction.

How about you? Would you like an author to be your writing mentor or beta partner?

#IWSG: The Form Will Find Me?

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It’s the first Wednesday of the month and regular readers know what this means: it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) posting day.

Well, let me say I’m pretty insecure indeed. I did pretty well on the blogging front this past month, but I always dream bigger than I actually live. I mean, I remember saying about four years ago that, within the next five years, I’d like to write my memoir and yet there’s not a single word down on the page. That plus I haven’t a clue where to start. Stories or pieces of non-fiction would flow so easily when I was younger. I have one work in progress that could’ve turned into a young adult novel if I’d just had the willpower to finish it. Not saying it’d be published – it certainly wouldn’t, as it’s rather unoriginal -, but well.

I keep remembering that Stephen King quote in DIY MFA about how you need to write 2000 words a day. I know, the author said this isn’t true, but I do need to write.

Thankfully, I do write. I got a premium subscription to Day One, a journaling app for iOS. Though I haven’t written in my journals everyday, I do find that the words come more easily already after a week of having it. As a result, I did write on my blog everyday for the past week. I really could use some guidance on how to transform my blogging practice into something more powerful.

Now on to the optional prompt question. It’s a quote that says that, although you may write in a certain genre, you don’t have to have that predetermined. Rather, the form or genre will find you once you write. I indeed must say I agree with this to some extent. Though I often set out to write in a specific form, my words don’t usually come out in that form eventually. Even if I do choose a genre in advance, my words often flow more easily when I let them rather than plan what I’m writing in advance.

#IWSG: Mid-Year Reflections

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Wow, can you believe the first half of 2020 is already over with? They were quite eventful six months for most of us, I guess. Anyway, it’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) gathering.

This past month wasn’t too eventful in the writing department. I was at times really motivated, but most of the time, I was a bit uninspired.

To get some of my writing mojo back, I started working in the book DIY MFA, though its author claims writer’s block does not exist. The only reason we don’t write, according to her, is that we don’t want it badly enough.

I started writing a short piece of fiction right that same evening. It was based on a writing prompt I found in a collection for July on another blog. It’s still a bit random and not worthy of publication even on this blog. I might try to edit it someday or I might not.

I’ve also been journaling and writing stream-of-consciousness more lately. I like that and it helps me keep my writing muscles active. I don’t have a word goal. One thing I learned from DIY MFA is that there is no rule of thumb or best practice on how to become a writer. I mean, Stephen King claimed you need to write 2000 words a day and read at least 80 books a year. I don’t write as much and I certainly don’t read as much. Now I don’t intend on becoming a novelist. My one published piece of writing was written in the same way I write a blog post, kind of randomly.

Still, I hope to someday publish more. As such, I hope that the publishing world will become more diverse than it is now in the future. I mean, I’ve looked at mainstream places to submit my work and I always think my story is a bit out of the ordinary for them. I can’t be sure, of course, until I submit my work and see how it does.