Nothing Lost: Live your Dream

Nothing Lost: Live your Dream

Here we are near the end of another year as 2015 awaits us. This is the time we begin to reflect on our accomplishments over the past 12 months—we either look back in wonderment at how far we’ve come, or with dismay over things not yet accomplished. The things left undone often bother us the most. Regret. It’s an evil thing. It’s big and impactful and has absolutely no benefits. And yet many of us spend much time living in that very realm.

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Years back when the economy took a dive I was out of work for a very long time. As a journalist I struggled and scrambled trying to find work in my profession to no avail. And then a dear friend of mind suggested I come and work at the hotel where she working as a night auditor. It wasn’t the job for me; it was a midnight shift, the pay wasn’t great and I’d be dealing with the public. I didn’t want to deal with the public. It felt like God just didn’t like me anymore. But I did it anyway because a slim paycheck beats no paycheck any day. I work there four years. It was there I begin to sincerely write fiction. I begin with some short stories then a novel that I finished but didn’t quite flush out. Often the nights were solidly quiet and my thoughts would flow freely.

I wrote a second novel. Night after night, page after page I wrote. And yet, it seemed I’d never get a real job. God really didn’t like me. But several years later that novel was published. It was then I realized that those four years dealing with complaining guests, working weekends and holidays, sleeping during the day so that I could be awake and perky at night, I was able to accomplish much on the backend of my dream. I was there in the solitude of the night that I put in the work, honed the craft and figured it out. I was there in long stretches of quiet that ideas flowed. It was during those four years that I learned how to deal with people (a necessary skill at some point in every writer’s life). Before that job I had not been focused on writing. I wrote when I could carve out some time and that was practically never.  But there at the desk, 4:00 am, every morning without fail, I wrote. It was a good friend who helped me to realize that those years had not been wasted. Nothing had been lost.

Every time I wanted to look back on those days and feel sorry for myself I remembered that God’s will and timing is purposeful and perfect.  He doesn’t piddle or mismanage time; he doesn’t get off course or sidetracked. Nothing lost.

Those times in our lives when it feels as if nothing is happening may be the very crux of our destiny. The next time you feel like time has been wasted or you’ve lost ground I encourage you to ask yourself, what was the lesson in this? What was accomplished? Often time accomplishments are internal changes—a shift in the way we think or feel about a matter. Sometimes internally we are developing the groundwork for something bigger. Therefore it is not time wasted, but time well spent.
 

 

Is a novel outline only for wimps?

Outline or not to outline has been a preverbal dilemma for ages. Well, perhaps not for ages, but for a very long time. Even experienced writers have their preferences; some swear by it. It is said that John Irving, takes at least a year to outline his novels before he even starts to write the story. Kimberla Lawson-Roby outlines but only after she is well into the writing. Stephen King wings it—the story’s vision in his head.  He believes outlining makes the story feel artificial. Although it is indeed a personal preference, I will attempt to explain the pros and cons of both.

Outlining obviously allows you to organize your thoughts. You can plainly see where you are going. If the plot is veering off a cliff, you’d at least like to know early on. Half way through the novel you don’t have to wonder if John died of Parkinson’s or cancer; if you thoroughly organize you will know. Organizing allows you to see the progression of the story. Depending on how detailed the outline is you can see if your progression is at an even pace. Is it moving too fast? Is it completely stagnant for three or four chapters? Often in our head we get caught up in the writing. We like the sound of our thoughts, the elegant, lofty word choices. In our mind it all sounds so nice. But with an outline you can see if every one of those 20 scenes in one chapter is actually moving the story along. Remember, when writing, every word should be purposeful, deliberate and not just a way to flex our literary muscles. Save that for your personal journal.Wile-P-Coyote

With my second novel, Thursday’s Child, which I am currently editing, I purchased banner paper, hung it on a wall and outlined the entire book that way. It allowed me to see different scenes and jump from chapter to chapter in a glance. Many times I looked at one scene and literally switch it with another to make the story move a little more smoothly. It was easier to see what did and didn’t work and the places where conflict was building or where scenes were falling flat.

The outline itself is work, which, I believe is one of the reasons that many authors shy away from creating one. It takes planning and thought, brainstorming and correction. But to have a tangible plan takes at least that aspect out of the work beforehand and lets you concentrate on writing the story, delving into the creative part of the process which is what most of us enjoy the most anyway.  An outline is like having a map for your trip so that you can see the route you are taking and make adjustments before you write it out. It can definitely save on the rewriting.

When I wrote my first novel I did not outline—initially. I allowed the winds of inspiration to take me where they willed. After the first draft, I pulled out index cards and commence to doing a chapter by chapter outline, because the story was getting away from me. This is especially helpful if you have several sub-plots.

Winging it. There’s an entire patch of purist who would not dream of tampering with inspiration by confining their masterpiece to an outline. The vision for the work is in their head. And I get it. There is a certain rush you get from simply going at it, allowing the characters and story to take on a life of their own.  Not know if Weston should die or be kept alive, allowing the story to dictate his outcome. Writers who attempt this should do so because they feel that their writing would seem less authentic if confined to an outline and not because they’re too lazy to take the time to create a plan.

Writing without an outline takes extreme focus and drive because when you get to those moments where you run out of story and are saying, now what you have to push past it until you know what.focus2

Whatever your preference you don’t have to be totally committed to doing it one way. An outline doesn’t have to be scene by scene or even chapter by chapter. It can be a simple, lose guide that gives you broad direction and room to create. And you can always outline all or just some of it. Remember; you can switch up, even if you are half way through your writing. I won’t tell if you won’t.

 

When dreams die, they die young: Confessions of a Writer Part I

When dreams die, they die young: Confessions of a Writer Part I

I knew from the first moment I looped twist ties through a thick stack of notebook paper with the edges still frayed that I wanted to be a writer. There was this feverish excitement to watch written words come alive. And when you’re six years old and add a few pictures sketched and colored with Crayola crayons, well you might as well be a NYTBSA.

Yep, six years old with these characters that seemed to come from nowhere. They were my creation, my friends and once they were out on paper they were no longer imaginary, they were real people.amazing_silhouette_photograph_14

I started telling anyone who would listen that I was going to be an author when I grew up. I was going to write fiction. I don’t know where I got such a big, complex dreams but it seemed I knew and understood them intuitively.

After a few years I stopped this ridiculous confession because as I looked around no one in my circle of influence was talking about writing books and authors and such. Do those people even get paid? What would you even write?

By sixth grade grownups were always asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. By the looks on their faces I knew it had to be something that required college and a degree I could hang on the wall in my office.

When I grow up I want to be a psychologist.

When I said this people drew in long breaths and smiled with admiration. Psychologists were smart people. Educated folk, they said. This was a wise choice. With a clear head and a dedication to school I could become that or even an accountant. You see my Daddy said I should become an accountant and I could, once I learned how to be good with numbers. His brown eyes let up as if he could see it in his mind’s eyes.

Yes, I would be either a psychologist or an accountant as Daddy suggested.

My father worked at General Motors for 30 years. On the, weekends he wrote and read every day, for hours. About a year after he retired he died. After his death we found piles of notebooks filled with his writings. I wonder if anyone ever asked him what he wanted to be? I wonder when he sat in the big chair with his tall legs crossed looking over his bifocals writing in those notepads did he ever wish he could do that all day?

Well, I went to college and graduated with honors.  I got a Bachelor’s in Journalism so at least I would be sure to get paid if I just insisted on writing.

I don’t quite remember when my dream to become a fiction writer began to die. I suppose it was a slow process, like someone who is terminally ill and finally stops struggling against the inevitable. It’s almost a relief just to give in. There’s a feeling of satisfying indolence when you’re no longer struggling. I guess that must be what a physical death feels like.

When dreams die, they usually die young.

They die in the womb; at the point when they should be cared for the most, tended to to  make sure the roots are strong.  They don’t usually die brutally; but go the way of neglect. We stop speaking over them, we don’t feed them anymore. We smother them with the expectations from others, disappointments and fears we’ve learned from our environment and all the lies we tell ourselves.

Eventually, as a young woman, I discovered this little seed; hidden and long forgotten.  Stories played in my head, like when I was six. They needed to be recorded.

Whenever there is something still alive there is hope.

Not all dreams die young. Some dreams just refuse to die.

SORMAG’s Online Conference

SORMAG’s Online Conference

It is my pleasure to have with me today LaShaunda C. Hoffman, the founder of SORMAG (Shades of Romance Magazine). She is here to talk about the online conference to be held November 1-3. It’s going to be an exciting and informative event. LaShaunda will tell us all about it, specifically events on the last day of the conference.

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I would like to thank Dorcas for hosting me today.

My name is LaShaunda C. Hoffman and I’m hosting the SORMAG’s Online Conference. The one conference you don’t have to leave your home to attend.

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What happens on the 3rd Day of the conference?

The third day of the conference is dedicated to Published Authors.  This day will focus on the business side of writing. A lot of writers are moving toward epublishing.  We will feature a few workshops that focus on this way of publishing.

The blog posts will offer the opportunity to ask questions of other authors who have knowledge about different topics.

The panel discussions you have a chance to listen to authors share their wisdom on different topics.  There will be Q/A session for you to participate in.

On the SORMAG Fan page we will host a networking sessions so you can connect with readers and other writers.

Have I convinced you to register?  Check out our agenda, and at the end take a moment to register.

http://sormag.blogspot.com/2013/10/sormags-online-conference-2013.html

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Who is SORMAG?

SORMAG is Shades of Romance Magazine an award winning magazine this is in digital and blog form.  We feature author interviews and book promotion.

Check out our latest issue – http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/642620

See what’s happening with us daily at – http://sormag.blogspot.com

Need help with your promotion – http://sormag.com/advertise.htm

 

Question #6 – What do you dislike about live conferences?

If you answer the question or leave a comment, you have a chance to win the following:

$10.00 Gift Certificate to Amazon.com (5 winners)

Or Book Teaser Ad (5 winners)

Visit the following blogs for the next questions for chance to win:

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Invite to SORMAG’s online conference?

10/11 Simply Said Reading Accessories –  http://www.simply-said.net/

What is an online conference?

10/14 Bettye Griffin – http://www.chew-the-fat-with-bettye.blogspot.com/

How can you participate in an online conference?

10/15 Maxine Thompson – http://maxinethompsonbooks.com/blog/

What happens on the 1st Day of the conference?

10/16  Unoma S Nwankworhttp://unomanwankwor.com

What happens on the 2nd Day of the conference?

10/17 Makasha Dorsey – http://MakashaDorsey.com

What happens on the 3rd Day of the conference?

10/18 Dorcas Graham – http://Dorcasgraham.com

What are the goals of the SORMAG’s online conference?

10/21 Deatri King Bey – http://deatrikingbey.com/

Tips to have a good experience at an online conference

1.     Check the agenda and attend the workshops that will interest you

10/22 Renee Williams – http://allthebuzzreviews.com

Tips to have a good experience at an online conference

2.     Participate, don’t be a lurker

10/23 Shelia Goss – http://www.sheliagoss.com/blog

Tips to have a good experience at an online conference

3.     Meet new people, introduce yourself

10/24 Patricia Woodside – http://readinnwritin.blogspot.com/

Last Day to register for SORMAG’s Online Conference

10/25 Lori Soard – http://crabbyhousewife.com/

SORMAG’s Online Conference – Nov 1-3

10/31 See Ya On The Net – http://lashaunda.blogspot.com

Thanks for taking the time to read my post.  If anyone has a question for me feel free to leave a comment. I will be checking back throughout the day to answer them.  Hope to see you at the conference.  LCH

Write the stories you want to hear

Write the Stories that you want to hear

In response to the movie, The Butler, someone commented on a blog that he was sick and tired of always seeing African Americans portrayed in roles of servitude and more importantly being applauded and celebrated for these portrayals. He ranted that there were hundreds of stories to be told, and not one of them was about a Black man serving dinner and coffee to rich White folks while decked out in tie and tux. It seems we rest comfortably around the same ‘ole stories, this writer suggested.

I can’t argue that many stories seem duplicates of others. We go with what’s brewing in pop culture or continue on in the vein of what we already know works. But the thing is, stories are about empowerment. Fiction writing in particular allows us to create based on experiences and that which is a reflection of our beliefs, hopes or curiosity.  These stories satisfy that inner self.  And whether I’m telling my story about my abusive husband or a fantasy about the guy in 1B it is somehow all a part of me. Perhaps you can’t relate or don’t want to hear it, perhaps my story depresses you or you’re so over tales of domestic trysts. But it is my hope and that of all writers that our perspective will be fresh and inviting and that our spin on things will enlighten you further or inform you more.

Yes, it’s true that the market can seem saturated with the same stories. I mean how many stories about failing sports teams pushing past adversity can one person see without their eyes rolling back in their heads? Remember the Titans, is a football team rising above racial segregation and discrimination; We are the Marshalls is a team triumphing in the wake of tragic death of a group of their teammates; Friday Night Lights documents a small Texas town’s obsession with their teams and the game of football. Yes, each story is about football. But each story is about more than football. And there you have the uniqueness of each tale and more than likely the reason the storyteller decided it was important to tell it.  All the stories highlight different themes, times and places in history and all are relevant. The passion of the writer, director and producer thought that their movie story hadn’t quite been told (O.K., money was kinda important but still…).

And more importantly most often we tell the stories of which we are passionate about. We tell OUR stories. We may draw from those around us or from something that was simply peddling around in our imagination. And if you change your story to tell one that will tickle the fancy of a critic, your creativity and imagination and the passion that drives you are all in some way undermined.

I’ll often have a friend or acquaintance, say to me, “boy do I have a story for you.” Most often it is not the story for me; it may be intriguing or begging to be written, but fiction and even non-fiction is unlike journalism it that the writer has to feel a need or an urge to write it. In other words, we need to care about it. Stephen King gets to choose his subjects, Gayle King doesn’t; she tells the stories given to her.

The thing is to let the story drive you, move you and motivate you. And for those of you who haven’t seen or heard the story that you want to hear, do as Terry McMillan did and write it or collaborate with someone who can write it for you. But dog nab it whatever you do don’t complain because someone else is telling theirs. Go on…write it…we are waiting. We would love to hear what you have to say.

What do you think? I would love to hear from you.