It’s been a while since I’ve done a seasonal write-up on what I’ve read recently – and boy, it feels good to do one again. Maybe it’s because I read some FANTASTIC books over the past couple months, including a few that might end up near the top of my year-end favorites list. But I’m getting ahead of myself, aren’t I? We still have three months left in 2018. Who knows how the rest of the year will play out reading-wise, for all of us? 😉
Anyway. Over the summer, I read 13 books, bringing my year-to-date total to 41. Out of those 13, the eight I’m highlighting today are ones I rated 4 stars or higher on Goodreads. (You might be able to guess a few of them from the banner image above. *wink*) If you’d like to check out my complete review of any of these books on Goodreads, click the link in each book’s title.
So… in terms of writing, this summer turned out much differently than I’d expected it to. If you read last week’s post on losing the passion for a writing project, then you know part of the story. (More on that shortly.) Yet it wasn’t an unproductive or disappointing season. In fact, some good things happened, like continued excitement about A Literary Tea Party, the cookbook I recently wrote an introduction for. And who knows, there may be more news to share in the future. 😉
I know, I’m being a tease. But one thing that’s clear? The second part of the blog post title. I might be making some changes to this series, and I’d appreciate any input that you, the reader, may have.
Let’s dive in so I can explain things in more detail.
I haven’t touched my novel-in-progress since the second week of July.
Yeah. There’s no way of sugarcoating the truth. The good news is, I haven’t stopped writing altogether. But the first draft of the manuscript I’ve been working on for the past year? The desire to open the Word file isn’t there right now. In fact, I think it had been gone for a while, but it took me several weeks to realize it.
Maybe this has happened to you. At some point during a writing project, despite the passion you felt early on, the fire goes out. You might not know the reason why right away. You might not even recognize what the feeling is at first, so you keep pushing on. But once you do… well, depending on your personality, you might have a hard time accepting it.
Today, I’m here to tell you something important: It’s OK. You’re not alone in this, and maybe something in this post might help you get through it and figure out what to do next.
When Victoria Grace Howell nominated me for this tag (thank you, Tori!), two thoughts went through my head. The first one: “Wow! This should be fun.” And the second one: “Crap. I threw out most of my old journals when I was reorganizing last year.” (*lol*) I still kept some of them, though, since some of their pages were still empty. Because, really, how awful would it be for a writer to let blank sheets of lined paper go to waste?
So I went through the oldies-but-goodies I still have and chose three to share with you today. Oddly enough, none of them show much of my early creative writing projects. But each one is unique in design, purpose, and personal meaning to me. I hope you enjoy this post as much as I enjoyed looking back through some of the pages of my past, literally.
Of course, since this is a blog tag, let’s kick things off with…
What does it mean when someone describes a story as “preachy”? It doesn’t mean the story is religious. Rather, it means the story’s themes are presented in a forceful or one-sided manner – an approach that often turns readers off. So, in today’s edition of Theme: A Story’s Soul at DIY MFA, I share three writing mistakes that can lead to preachy themes in a story, as well as solutions for each that can bring more subtlety, balance, and realism to how those themes are portrayed. Continue reading
I’m back at Writers Helping Writers this week to talk about one of favorite productivity tips: writing first drafts out of sequence. (*gasps*) If it sounds like it might be an overwhelming or potentially confusing way to write, I don’t blame you for thinking so. But when approached in a methodical way, “skipping around” can help you take advantage of moments of intense inspiration so you’re constantly in the flow. You can even use it as a work-around for writer’s block. 😮
Recently I was interviewed by Jennifer Sparkman for her online magazine The Articles of Antiquity. And what did we talk about? Writing, of course! 😉 Poetry, DIY MFA, all-time favorite writers, sources of inspiration, and a few other topics. I had fun answering Jen’s questions, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading the end result.
Ah, summertime in Massachusetts. Some days it’s hot, humid, and a bit thunderstormy. Other days it’s milder and absolutely gorgeous. Unfortunately it’s also been dry, and the lawns are starting to turn that worrisome “drought” shade of light brown. Hopefully we’ll get some soaking rains soon.
Other than that, I really can’t complain about June and July. That’s not to say that life was perfect (I’m recovering from another bout of writer’s doubt… but that’s a story for another day). But there was a lot to be happy, excited, or grateful over the past two months – enough that I had some trouble narrowing it down to three highlights per month! So let’s kick things off with…
About a year-and-a-half ago, I began reading one poem a day before going to bed. If time allowed, I might read two poems, especially if I was alternating between a regular poetry book and a longer “best-of” collection. Since then, this habit has become as essential to my routine as writing, breathing, and sleeping. More importantly, I’ve already noticed the impact it’s had on my writing as well as my life in general. (That last bit might be a story for another day. *wink*)
Maybe you love poetry, too, yet you struggle to find time to read it because of work, family, and other responsibilities. Or perhaps you haven’t read much poetry before and would like that to change. Reading a poem a day could be the perfect solution – because, like other habits that eventually stick, you might find yourself enjoying this short, simple act so much that your routine will feel incomplete without it.
So, how can you benefit from reading a poem a day? Why should you even try in the first place? Let me give you five reasons, starting with…
Here’s a question for any writers who are reading this: At what point in the writing process do you start paying attention to your story’s themes? Does theme even cross your mind as you’re brainstorming, drafting, or revising a story? If you answered “no” – don’t worry, your story probably still contains themes . However, it always helps to have a strong awareness of themes. So in my latest DIY MFA article, we explore ways in which you can develop that awareness at each stage of the process, and how that awareness can improve more than just the story.
Also, a fun fact for you: The conversation I mention during the article’s introduction eventually inspired me to pitch the Theme: A Story’s Soul column to DIY MFA. 😉