#IWSG: Drawing the Line

IWSG

It’s the first Wednesday of the month and this means the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) is meeting. It doesn’t matter that it’s Blogtober and the 31-day writing challenge is running. It’s already past 8PM as I write this, so I probably won’t have time for a separate post for these challenges. Maybe I’ll catch up with the word prompts from the latter challenge tomorrow. Maybe not.

For those visiting from #Blogtober21 or the 31-day writing challenge anyway, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group gathers each first Wednesday of the month to discuss our writing insecurities, fears, successes and setbacks. There is also an optional question each month.

First, let me share that I did quite well in the writing department over the past month. I published 22 blog posts in September, one more than in August. I also think I did an okay job of broadening my writing horizons. I (re)discovered the diary app Diarium and did an okay job keeping a journal in there for part of the month. Not so much in October so far.

For October, my goal is just to write a blog post everyday in keeping with the challenges I’m participating in. I may or may not go with the 31-day writing challenge word prompts. I don’t really intend to write much in the way of fiction or poetry, but who knows where my muse will lead me?

Now on to this month’s optional question: where do you draw the line with respect to topics or language?

First, I have a clear line relating to language: I don’t swear in my writing. Even when one of my angry alters was writing on here and tried to drop an F-bomb, I censored it out. I do occasionally use bad language on social media. I don’t use profanity though and haven’t for a long time, even before I became a Christian. I in fact find unnecessary use of foul language (which is most use of foul language) quite offputting in my reading too.

With respect to topics, well, since I write mostly autobiographical musings on here, I draw the line where I invade other people’s privacy. For example, when I mention my husband, I make sure it’s in a lighthearted way. I won’t write about our arguments, about our intimate life, etc. I do need to say though that I had to learn to shut up about such topics the hard way. In fact, my husband still likes to jokingly remind me of a post I published on an old, now-private blog in 2008 in which I described my expectations should he and I become a couple officially. In particular, he likes to tease me about calling him a “kid”.

For clarity’s sake, I am not and never was one to describe violence, sex etc. in detail. Even when I still did describe my fights with my parents or my intimate life with my husband, I didn’t use explicit language. Similarly, when I write fiction or poetry, I must say, I generally keep my language quite non-explicit too. I do write about dark topics, but usually by trying to convey the emotions rather than going into detail about the actual facts.

Childhood Ambitions

Last week’s topic for Truthful Tuesday was what we as children wanted to become when we’d grow up. I already discussed this at length last year, so really didn’t feel like boring my readers with the same old stuff again. I mean, I didn’t end up becoming a professor, a psychologist or a published author, or for that matter any of the other things I wanted to be when I’d grow up. Then I saw the topic is being continued this week. That got me thinking. Maybe, if I look at it differently, I did fulfill some of those childhood ambitions.

For example, I may not be a published author yet. Well, I am, if you count that one short piece of writing published in an anthology back in 2015. But I hardly count that. What I do count, is my blog. Back in my childhood years, the Internet hardly existed, so if I wanted my diary published, like Anne Frank, I’d have to have it traditionally published. Well, thank goodness I don’t strive for that at all now. If I’m ever going to get anything published in print in the future, it will be something much better than those crazy diary entries. But I digress.

Another ambition I reached, is inspiring others, including professionals. As a young teen, I wanted to become a psychologist so that I could help improve care for children or people in general with complex care needs. Though I’m not even a peer support worker by qualification, I have given informal lectures to medical students and other professionals.

Thirdly, I have vastly expanded my knowledge of psychology, education and related topics. I may not actually be of value to anyone with this knowledge except in the ways I mentioned above. However, if you asked my parents what my ultimate passion was as a child, they’d invariably say “collecting knowledge”. I may not have graduated college or even come close. I may live in a long-term care facility for people with intellectual disability. I may not be as much of a nerd as I was when I was younger. However, I still definitely use my brains.

Other ways in which I contribute to the world that I couldn’t even imagine as a child, include my creative endeavors. I bring a smile to my fellow clients’ faces when I bring them handmade gifts. I also am much more empathetic and sensitive than I could’ve imagined I would be. That makes me much prouder than having achieved my high level high school graduation.

What childhood ambitions did you manage to fulfill?

Activities I Do When I’m Alone

I have been struggling more with alone time and the fear of being left to my own resources lately. For this reason, Carol Anne of Therapy Bits’ question yesterday comes at the right time. She asks what things we like to do when we’re alone.
Here’s a list of things I can do by myself.

1. Go online. I can read other people’s blog posts, be it in my feed reader or through link parties.

I can also go on Facebook and other social media. I don’t personally use Twitter, Instagram etc. much at this point, but I still like to scroll through it.

I also recently developed an interest in watching YouTube videos in the areas of crafting and faith.

2. Read. The only goal I set for myself this year that I truly, definitely haven’t reached, is my reading goal. I’ve so far only finished six books out of my goal of 20. That being said, I do like to read the occasional short story or chapter in a self-help book.

3. Write. I am currently on an eight-day streak with this blog (including this post). I can also write in my private diary, for which I use an app called Day One. I use this app for freewrites and gratitude lists too.

4. Pray and read my Bible. I sometimes slack out on my Bible reading a little, opening the app and only reading the verse of the dday. Today, I did pretty well, having actually finished a plan I had been doing for a while and also having read up some in the book of Judges (because someone I follow mentioned a verse from there).

Besides filling my time, Bible study and prayer will bring me closer to God and will hopefully make me realize that I am never truly alone, even when I am physically alone. I am also never left to my own resources, even if it feels that way.

5. Listen to music and dance. The word “dance” should really be put between scare quotes, since my sense of rhythm is nonexistent. However, I enjoy listening to country, southern rock and contemporary Christian music while moving.

In addition, I also like to listen to calming music while lying in bed. Then, I prefer nature sounds and harp, guitar or piano music. I also occasionally listen to contemporary Christian music when I’m neither resting nor dancing. Then, I’m digesting the lyrics.

Do you struggle with alone time? What activities do you do when you’re alone?

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

#IWSG: Success As a Writer

IWSG

It’s the first Wednesday of the month once again and this means it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) to meet. I don’t really have much to share with respect to how well I did in the area of writing. I mean, I did okay, having written 21 blog posts over the month of August. I didn’t really broaden my writing horizons at all, but that’s okay. Other creative outlets (ie. polymer clay) have taken priority.

So, with no further ado, let’s get to this month’s question. This month, the optional question is how we define success as a writer.

As someone who has only had one short piece published so far, I can’t really define success by how well-accepted my works are in the area of publishing. At least not unless I want to consider myself a massive failure. This doesn’t mean I don’t define success by external standards though.

When I first started writing for an audience with my online diary in 2002, I hardly had that audience in mind at all. The service I used didn’t have a comment feature or stats, so there was no way of knowing who’d read my writings except if they’d E-mail me about them.

When I transferred to WordPress in 2007, I still didn’t care about or even pay attention to my stats. I was delighted when my blog posts got featured on a popular-in-my-niche blog, but that’s about it.

Then when I started what I refer to as “my old blog” on this blog in 2013, I did understand more about blogging and WordPress, so I did pay attention to how many comments I got. That’s usually how I defined success at the time. I also checked my stats more regularly, but still didn’t really know what they meant.

I still to this day usually define success by the engagement I get on my blog. Since starting this blog in 2018, it has been steadily improving.

I do try not to obsess over my stats though. I mean, back in the days of my old blog, I would hardly ever respond to people’s comments because those comments would distort my stats. I have learned since that it is not just morally expected but good for your engagement too to reply to each comment you receive.

Besides the number of comments I receive, I would like to add that it helps boost my sense of success as a writer to see that people are genuinely touched by or interested in my writings. I feel therefore that the content of comments also matters.

How do you define success as a writer?

Why I Write What I Write #OpenBook

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” – Flannery O’Connor

Yesterday, I read Stevie Turner’s post for the Open Book Blog Hop and the topic really struck a chord, as did the accompanying quote, which I copied above. The question Stevie poses for this week’s hop is why we write what we write.

I mostly write personal essays, journal entries and other works of autobiographical nonfiction. It may surprise you that I didn’t start out this way. As a child, I wrote fiction more than I wrote diaries. I wasn’t too imaginative, but I tried my best and my parents and teachers were pretty impressed. I always wanted to be a writer.

I started writing a regular diary when I was thirteen. About nine months later, I read Anne Frank’s diary and pretty quickly decided I wanted my diaries published when I’d grow up. That never happened and isn’t going to happen either, not even here, since my crazy ramblings of the time are none of my current day readers’ business. It was 2000 at the time, so online diaries already existed, but I was unaware of their existence.

I continued to write some fiction on a semi-regular basis and aspire to get at least some pieces of fiction published at some point until my late teens or early twenties. Now, I don’t have any aspirations for getting any fiction published.

As for why I write what I write, there are two main reasons. The first is to express myself. I revived this specific blog in 2018 in an attempt to allow myself to write more from the heart than I was permitting myself to do on my old blog.

As an offshoot from the wish to express myself comes the wish to find likeminded individuals. I blog in English because the English-language blogosphere on WordPress and Blogger is much larger and by extension more diverse than the Dutch one, which consists primarily of wannabe “influencers”. Through my writing, I aim to connect to people who share similar experiences to mine.

With respect to my fiction, this has always been the goal of my writing, really, too. My fiction always had very strong autobiographical components and I was looking to diversify young adult fiction. I am sometimes surprised at how well-represented people in minority positions, including multiple minorities, are in fiction nowadays. As a teen, my goal was to be part of that movement. I guess by merely writing openly about my experiences online, even though I’m no longer engaged in activism, I may be doing this.

#IWSG: My Go-To Writing Book(s)

IWSG

Hi all! It’s the first Wednesday of the month and you know what that means? It’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) to meet. I have been doing really well in the writing department over the past month. In July, I published 30 blog posts, including some creative writing. I didn’t write everyday, at least not intentionally, but on the days I did write, I more than made up for this.

I have truly felt my creative juices flowing over the past month, not just with respect to writing, but crafting too. Whether this is due to my new psychiatric medication or not, I do not know. I can only hope that it will last for a long time still to come.

Now on to this month’s optional question. This month, we’re asked to write about our favorite writing craft books. Those books that, each time we open them, we learn something new or are inspired to write or try a new technique.

Well, I am not a big fan of writing “manuals” so to speak. I tried the book Diy Mfa and didn’t get beyond the first chapter. I prefer to just write and not be told how I should be doing it.

That being said, I do have a ton of go-to writing craft books. They are, however, collections of writing prompts. When I’m uninspired, I love to open one of those and see where the muse leads me. Most of these, of course, deal with journaling, as that’s my primary method of writing. Examples of books I love include The Year of You by Hannah Braeme, the eBook collection Journaling with Lisa Shea and 412 Journaling Exercises and Prompts for Personal Growth by Meredith Lane.

One series of books dealing with creative writing I love though is the Adventures in Writing series by Melissa Donovan. One of the books in the series is a collection of writing prompts. Another offers 101 more general writing exercises. The last one, Ready, Set, Write is more of a traditional “manual”. I like that one. I really think this series would be my go-to book series for inspiration that moves me out of my comfort zone.

#IWSG: Quit Writing?

IWSG

Hi everyone. It’s the first Wednesday of the month and this means it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) to meet again. I’m more than happy to report that I didn’t get booted for my flaky post last month.

I’m feeling quite motivated to write as of late. It’s still mostly regular posts on this blog, but that’s okay. I know, I know, I resolve each month to expand my writing horizons by doing more poetry and fiction writing. I’m also resolving this time to set some time aside for a daily freewriting session in the app Day One. My yearly subscription payment is due at the end of the month and I haven’t made use of it in a while, so now’s the time to get back into things.

Now on to this month’s optional question: what would make you quit writing? Seriously? I guess my death or the loss of my hand function, though if I lost the ability to type, I could possibly still dictate my writings. That being said, I’ve always said that loss of hand and particularly finger function would majorly impair my quality of life, since it’d not just mean an inability to type, but an inability to read Braille as well.

I have had times when I’ve taken a break from blogging and occasionally even writing in general. The longest I’ve gone without blogging since I got an Internet connection has been six months in like 2012. Since I started this blog nearly three years ago, not a week has gone by that I didn’t write at least one blog post.

Even before I had a blog, I had a diary and wrote tons of short stories and attempts at young adult novels. I honestly don’t think that, even if I ever were to stop blogging, I’d really stop writing for myself.

What would make you quit writing?

#IWSG: Breaking a Record!

IWSG

Hi all! It’s the first Wednesday of the month and this means it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group to meet. At the moment, my thoughts aren’t with writing really. However, I wanted to share my contribution to the #IWSG anyway.

Last month, I was a real writing ninja. I, of course, participated in the #AtoZChallenge. That did get a bit boring as the challenge proceeded, but I managed to finish it after all. I’m so glad I did, because it gave me real new motivation for keeping up the blogging habit.

Not only did I write the 26 posts for the challenge, but I actually wrote more posts in the month of April than I had in any month before since being a blogger. I published 41 posts this month. Seriously, in all the more than eighteen years I’ve been blogging, I didn’t publish this many posts in one single month!

Blogging aside, I also wrote quite a few other pieces. I have been journaling almost daily for a few weeks now. Sometimes, I just wrote a couple of sentences, but sometimes I wrote more. I have particularly loved expressing my gratitude in my journal. I’ve also loved writing responses to Day One’s daily prompts. Some of them weren’t too inspiring, but some definitely were.

For the upcoming month, I hope to be able to write daily again, be it on my blog or elsewhere. I’d love to make use of the many journaling prompt collections I have. I transferred some from my computer to my iPhone, so that they will be more readily available to me.

Now on to this month’s optional question: has any of your readers ever responded to your writing in a way that you didn’t expect? Well, not really. I mean, I get the occasional critical comment. For example, when I still blogged on my old blog, there was a person who commented on each of my posts mentioning my alters. Their comments invariably stereotyped people with dissociative identity disorder and told me that I was faking having alters and needed treatment for a personality disorder. Well, yes, those comments weren’t what I’d hoped for. Then again if I put myself out there like this, no doubt someone’s going to use it as a way to try to offend me. That’s how the Internet works.

Other than that, the most surprising comments I’ve got were compliments on my creative writing. I know that most people want to build each other up even if they don’t fully mean it, but still, it’s quite cool to get a compliment on a poem or piece of flash fiction. Similarly, having had my piece accepted into an anthology back in 2015, wasn’t what I’d expected at all. That one was creative nonfiction, but I honestly had written it in the span of like an hour or so and had been rather impulsive submitting it. I was so elated to have the piece accepted for publication.

How about you? Do people ever respond to your writing in a way that you haven’t expected?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (April 24, 2021)

Hi everyone! After writing this afternoon’s quick post, I felt I really wanted to write another post today, so I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare on Saturday. I’m pretty sure I’ll have something else to share with you tomorrow. Either that or I can take the day off blogging for a change. Anyway, I just had my soft drink and chips for this evening, but there is no doubt still some left. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, first, as usual, I’d make smalltalk about the weather. It’s mostly been sunny and dry, but windy and quite chilly. How is yours?

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’ve been struggling with foot pain when walking for a while now. I don’t know why, but it seems worse when I wear my AFO (ankle foot orthosis). The physical therapist – not my usual one, since she was off sick – came by yesterday. I can’t remember all that she said, but it came down to my having muscle tension in my feet or something. Massaging my foot before putting on the AFO may work. Other than that, she basically told me that the AFO takes some getting used to. I interpreted this to mean I just need to push through for a bit. That, I think, makes little sense, since I’ve had the AFO for at least a month, probably two, and was fine most of that time.

I was pretty frustrated and depressed when I could barely walk with the AFO on yesterday evening. I immediately catastrophized that I may as well get a wheelchair. Another possibility, and I know my staff don’t buy that one, is that I just need to lose weight. I do, but my staff don’t believe that’s causing my pain. Honestly, neither do I, as I’ve been a lot heavier in the past and then didn’t have issues with pain. My foot also does stand in a weird position when not forced into a 90-degree angle by my AFO. Well, I’m not wearing my AFO for now and we’ll see what will be next.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that on the walk without my AFO this evening, I heard a stork making that clattering sound storks do. We were near the neighborhood supermarket, so at first, my staff didn’t believe me and was convinced it was something else. Then she spotted a stork nest.

Stork

If we were having coffee, I would share that I’ve been reading a lot lately. Some of it involves me exploring the enneagram and other personality-related topics. I’ve also been reading a little on attachment styles and trauma. However, I’m also reading for enjoyment. I am currently reading the foster care memoir A Sister’s Shame by Maggie Hartley.

If we were having coffee, I’d also tell you that I’ve been writing a lot again. Of course, I’m still blogging everyday, but I’ve also picked up my journaling app, Day One, again, and am aiming to write at least a few sentences each day.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would share that I’m finally able to benefit fully from the YouVersion Bible App and Bible.com. I discovered the note-taking feature yesterday. Today, I finally downloaded the Common English Bible translation. This translation’s publishers require a valid E-mail address and I had initially signed up with my Apple ID and a hidden E-mail address. I thought it should be easy to add my actual E-mail address to the app, but not so. Turned out I also had an account, a different one, with my actual E-mail address. Thankfully, I was able to sort it out. I’m fully enjoying my Bible reading again.

What’s going on in your life?

Reading Wrap-Up (April 12, 2021) #IMWAYR

Hi everyone. It’s a cold, windy and rainy Monday here. Perfect for reading. Not that I’ve done a huge amount of it, but I’d still like to join in with It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? or #IMWAYR. Let me share some of my bookish thoughts.

Life Update

I’m feeling okay today. Not bad, not great. I am loving looking through my tons of writing prompts, but none seem to inspire me right now. That is, I did open the app Drafts on my iPhone again yesterday and discovered a number of freewrites and poems I’d written. That did inspire me a little.

What I’m Currently Reading

Well, honestly, too many books to count. I’ve mostly been reading bits here and there and then putting down a book again.

I picked up the second book in the Church Dogs of Charleston series by Melissa Storm a few weeks ago, as it was free. It’s a cute read.

Then I’m still reading The Choices We Make by Karma Brown. I finally read a bit in this novel again a few days back, but well, I don’t think I’m in the mood for complicated adult novels at this point.

Finally, I was somehow interested in reading abuse survivor memoirs again, so downloaded the preview of You are Mine by Isabelle Eriksson. I haven’t yet decided whether I’m going to buy the actual book.

I’ve also been paging through a ton of books on journaling, but I don’t think that counts as actual reading.

What I Recently Finished Reading

I got Abby, Tried and True by Donna Gephart off Bookshare in an impulse a few weeks ago and raced through it. I wrote a review last Tuesday.

What I Think I’ll Be Reading Next

Both Casey Watson and Maggie Hartley have a foster care memoir out this Thursday, so probably one of those. I also have been asking around in a Christian book group on Facebook about realistic contemporary fiction. I got a lot of replies and am still sorting through them, so I may want to buy a book by one of the recommended authors.

What have you been reading lately?