and sometimes you don’t meet your goals…

…and that’s okay! At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself over and over again for the past week. I wish I could say that my CampNaNoWriMo failure is just because I received a very disappointing rejection letter last Friday, but it wouldn’t be the truth.

The truth is, I hit a wall! I’m sure you’ve seen them. One of those big concrete walls that your characters are trying to break through, but can’t? Sometimes life gets in the way and this month I wasn’t able to keep my regular life boundaries separate from my writing life. Is it the end of the world? No. Does it feel like it sometimes as a writer? Yes. 

Hey, I’m here to tell you that it probably happens to the best of us and we can reboot and move on. My plan is to make August a more productive month and I’m going to approach it in a different way. More on that soon…

Until next time,

Christine 

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set the goals. drink coffee. meet the goals.

Most mornings, when I drag myself to work, I look like this…

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…except I’m not a duck.

With an overwhelming list of things to do during the work day, it can sometimes be difficult to imagine how I could possibly find the time and energy to work on my novel.

Enter coffee.

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I know it sounds so cliche…a writer who drinks a lot of coffee? I’m going to be honest with you. Whenever my friends tell me that they haven’t had any coffee yet, I pretty much yell at them and insult them for being stupid. (I’m kidding though…maybe.)

This month is Camp NaNoWriMo. I’m happy to report that I met my June goals and have been making good progress with my July goals thanks to the oh-so-motivating NaNoWriMo organization. It always adds a little spring to my step when these months come around. Because of my busy work schedule and new second job at ComicOn.com, I set a word count goal of 7,500 words, which is 250 words a day. Seems simple, yes, but I wanted to set a goal that I knew I would hit!

Two jobs and a young adult fantasy W.I.P. = coffee. Are you getting my point? The truth is, whatever works for you is key. I’ve talked about this a lot in some of the workshops I’ve taught. Whether it’s coffee, m&m’s, long nature walks, cat naps…just do it! We are all in this together and I wish you all the luck in meeting your July writing goals.

Don’t forget…it’s Summer and that means iced coffee too.

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Until next time,

Christine

 

 

 

Tired & Inspired: June Writing Goals 


Hey there! How are ya? Good, I hope. I’m tired (from my day job) and inspired (from my current W.I.P.).

So, remember last month when I said I’d write 20 pages? Well, my birthday happened and I got a gaming computer.

 

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Now, that doesn’t mean I didn’t get any writing done because I did! However, I regret to inform you that I didn’t hit the 20 page goal I set for myself. None the less, the initial need to binge video games like crazy has passed and I’m feeling like a normal human again! Don’t laugh at me unless you’ve experienced how addicting they can be! Haha! For what it’s worth, I did OFFICIALLY apply for an MFA program. My May goals weren’t a total fail. (Now we cross our fingers and wait to hear back.)

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With that said, the beginning of June has been VERY productive. I’ve already written seven pages of my novel this month. I know I’ve been very secretive about the novel, but now that I’ve surpassed the 50 page mark on the work in progress, it’s feeling more real. I think sometimes when you’ve been writing a different genre for so long, it can be hard to follow the initial inspiration you get as a writer and believe that it’s actually going to last. For me, my comfort zone was set in the poetry world for two straight years. Transitioning to doing both was something I wasn’t sure was going to last. However, I’m so happy that it did. I feel like I’m breathing fresh, new air all of the time. I’m feeling more and more immersed in the world and closer to the characters with each passing day. It’s also great to be back in the young adult writing world because I really enjoyed it when I was JUST writing that genre a few years back.

So, there you have it! My current W.I.P. is a young adult fantasy novel and I’m really excited about it! I think I’ll easily be able to meet my goal of writing 20 pages this month.

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What are your June goals?

Feel free to tweet me @AWritersWay to chat!

Until next time,

Christine

CampNaNoWriMo Re-Cap & May Goals

Now that April is over, I can tell you that I successfully survived CampNaNoWriMo and met my writing goal! Can I get a woot woot?

Sure, 10,000 words of progress might not seem like a lot to some of you, but it was surely a lot for me! My plan to make progress on my MFA Application along with my poetry and fiction projects seemed like an impossible feat, but I made it. Here’s the proof…

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After a busy month, I’m excited about what’s ahead. During April I managed to host three poetry events, finish the first draft of my MFA application (5 page critical essay, 25 pages of fiction, 10 pages of poetry, and an introductory essay), and work my full time job!

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…now what?

It’s important to have writing goals even when we aren’t participating in these wonderful events, right? I’ve spent the last two days pondering what my goal for May should be.

I will of course be spending time editing my MFA application and will continue working on my poetry when inspiration strikes. However, I am most excited about the time that I will continue to dedicate to my new project. I haven’t mentioned on here yet what my new project is specifically, but you can probably guess that it is a work of fiction! I’ve decided to set a goal of writing 20 more pages of said project. While it was a lot of fun to work on so many different things last month, sometimes it’s nice to dedicate all of your creative energy to one thing…

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Because I want to go back to handwriting in the journal I carry around, it will be easier to keep with a page count. (Don’t worry, they’re giant pages…I’m not trying to cheat here people…) While I love having a word count goal, there is EXTREME pressure to be typing everything out immediately. I like the feeling of handwriting the pages and then typing them up when a chapter is done. Anyone else agree?

So, there ya have it! 20 pages during the month of May!

Until next time,

Christine

Happy National Poetry Month!

Happy #NationalPoetryMonth from the corner of my bedroom! I’ll be participating in #CampNaNoWrimo this month and can’t wait for the 7th installment of “A Dose of Poetry” this Thursday night. Come the the Georgian Court University Library April 6th, 20th, and 27th to celebrate with us! 7-9:30pm. 📖🖋✏️👩🏻‍💻👩🏻‍🏫

Customizing Camp NaNoWriMo

I’m here to tell you that there’s no better feeling than NaNoWriMo fueled months. I assume most of you probably know about the National Novel Writing Month challenge that takes place every November? The basic gist of it is, you have to write 50,000 words in 30 days. But have you heard of Camp NaNoWriMo?

Camp NaNoWriMo takes place two months out of the year, once in April and once in July. The main difference between NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo is that it’s completely customizable. You can choose what kind of project you want to work on: a novel, poetry, a play, etc., and you can also choose between setting a word count goal, page goal, lines, hours, and so on.

Because I find myself in the midst of working on two projects, I’ve decided to set a word count goal with the intention of working on both projects as I have been the past two months. I’ve come up with a very clever title…

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…just kidding. I know “Progress” isn’t all that exciting, but it is the goal!

I’ve gone with a small word count goal of 10,000 words because I will be simultaneously running my second year of “A Dose of Poetry” during the month of April…

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…and I’ll also be working my full time job. I think if I manage to meet this goal I will be beyond thrilled.

Maybe you’re wondering why participating in this type of challenge would be helpful to your writing? If nothing else, the community that comes alive on social media during these times is simply wonderful. It’s a great way to get connected with #amwriting folks all the while making progress with your creative projects!

Okay, who’s with me? Only thirteen days until the fun begins. (Sign up here.) Stock up on coffee! Chat with me on Twitter @AWritersWay.

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Until next time,

Christine

 

 

Inspired? Do it.

A little less than a month ago, I was sitting in my living room with my boyfriend and we were writing. He was working on his novel and I was working on a new poem. This particular poem that I was working on felt a lot like I was digging for a piece of myself that was hidden and strongly attached to my insides. None the less, I found it, grabbed onto it, and yanked it out pulling some anxiety along for the ride.

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This isn’t the first time that has happened over the past few months. With honest writing comes a certain level of anxiety. When you dig up traumatic parts of your life, it shakes you. Not to mention, you’re putting it on a page that you will most likely read to someone or have someone read. While I’ve been powering through, I found myself incredibly drained after this instance. All of a sudden I was dealing with old anxiety issues, ones that I thought I had already defeated. Then it dawned on me…balance. The key to everything in my life is balance. Maybe you feel the same way?

I sat in the living room talking to my boyfriend about what had just happened in my brain, talking about balance. Then, I remembered a dream. A dream I had probably a little more than a year ago.

[Note: I’m a superstitious human, so you might be a little confused moving forward. Sorry.]

I proceeded to tell my boyfriend about the dream and followed it up with, “Why don’t I write about that? I can write poetry and write that too, can’t I?”

Being the encouraging human that he is, he of course supported me.

Suddenly I was filled with a breath of fresh air. It was almost like I hadn’t taken in breath like this in years. I practically ran out the door in that moment on a quest for a new journal. (Everyone needs a new journal for a new project, right?) Since then, I’ve been writing. I’ve been working on my poetry and working on this new project. Guess what? It feels great. I felt inspired, I followed my instincts, and I’m so happy I did.

Now, I’m not sure if anyone ever looks at the “Writing” tab on my blog, but today I added this…

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Sorry, I’m superstitious and so afraid that the ideas will run away scared…

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…more to come soon!

All in all, if you’re inspired…DO IT! Don’t think about it, just do it! Write. Write. Write.

Until next time,

Christine

P.S. Guess who’s in the process of applying to MFA programs? This girl.

“Write while the heat is in you.” -Thoreau

Happy New Year & Happy “Christine will write more than 9 blog posts this year.”

Before I begin, an old picture of fire brought to you by Valentine’s Day 2016:

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I tend to not give myself a lot of credit. Not just in conversation, but in my own head. Over my Christmas break I was suffering from a really nasty sinus/upper respiratory infection and I lost my voice. Forced to use a pen and paper (marker and legal pad to be exact) as a means to communication, I found myself uplifted despite the pile of tissues. In dialogue with my roommates, they noticed my positive spirit emerging.

In fact one of them asked, “Do you feel happy because you’re physically writing?”

Suddenly I realized that she was 100% right. Even though my head was pounding and my body was fighting off a fever, mentally, I was feeling better. The physical act of writing was restoring something inside of me. Then, the ever so obvious reminder popped into my head. What would happen if you gave a poem a shot?

Yes, folks, it’s been a few months of writer’s block for me. The ideas were there, but the fear was back. The fear to let what I truly want to write out of my being onto the page. So, in that moment I could see clear enough and allowed the words from my dear Frost Place Poetry Seminar Sister Tiana Clark (follow the link & read her chapbook) echo in my mind. “Let’s be brave together,” she said. In 2017 I will be brave. I will write what I want to write and I won’t let the opinion of others stop me.

The rest of that day was spent with my other roommate, discussing life, poetry, creativity and all inspiring things. She read 20 pages worth of conversation due to my absent voice and we wrote next to each other for hours. Since then I’ve churned out two poems and I’m happy to report that I am so excited about them. I’m excited about the plan for what I hope will be my first book of poems, and I’m finally feeling passionate again.

Now, back to the picture of the fire. While I was writing today I was reminded of this quote by Thoreau:

“Write while the heat is in you. The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with. He cannot inflame the minds of his audience.” ― Henry David Thoreau

That is something that I’ve definitely neglected over the past four months. I used to work in a library and I jotted down my ideas almost instantly upon them entering my brain. Even though I work at a desk job now, there’s no reason to not keep the same scraps of paper next to my desk that I used to carry in my pocket. I also stopped keeping those same scraps next to my bed. I’m happy to report they have taken their rightful place on my nightstand once again. I will write while the heat is in me.

In closing, Happy New Year to all of you creative folk out there. Good luck with whatever writing goals you have and feel free to tweet @AWritersWay if you want to chat with me about them.

Until next time,

Christine

 

Note To Self: Feed Your Creative Spirit

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Photo of Anne Sexton

 

You know those signs outside of churches with sayings on them? You must have driven past them a thousand times. They normally have a heart warming saying of some sort or a quote about Jesus not wanting all of us to text and drive. I usually have a minimal reaction to them, though some make me smile or laugh, but I’m mostly unimpressed. That is, until last week. I was driving home from work, and it was a long day, one that left me with little to no energy to do anything after work besides cook dinner and watch TV. That’s when I saw this quote:

“Feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death.”

Now, you should know, I’m not a very religious person anymore. It’s totally cool if you are, but events that took place over the past few years led me to find faith in other places besides a church. These days, I get more out of flipping through the pages of “The Complete Poems of Walt Whitman” than I do getting down on my knees and praying to whoever is up there in the sky. However, when I saw that quote I was reminded that we all have different definitions of what faith means to us, and that’s a wonderful thing.

I began thinking about creative folk like me, and all of the things that feed our “writing faith,” if you will. So, would the saying apply when it comes to our writing life self-doubt?

Don’t pretend you don’t have it. We all have it and that’s okay. However, what can we do? In a recent discussion with one of my most trusted advisors, I found myself complaining about how crummy I feel due to the lack of producing enough material for one complete poem. I ranted about how I feel like an intruder when I’m not writing enough. How can I call myself a poet if I’m not dedicating ample time to writing poetry? How can I call myself a poet if I only write down one or two lines and fall asleep on top of my journal?

She then posed the question: “what else feeds that part of you?” I quickly responded that I love reading. If I’m not writing poetry, I certainly should be reading it. Upon saying the words out loud, I almost instantly felt relief. The saying returned to my mind…

“Feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death.”

So that’s where I’m at. I have a lot of unfinished poems piling up, bits of paper taped into my journal with ideas that pop into my brain, but I’m incorporating some discipline back into my life when it comes to reading. So far, it feels good. So far, I don’t hear the demons of self doubt knocking at my door in the middle of the night.

Stay tuned.

-Christine

The Forecast Reads: Poetry With A Chance Of Poetry

I returned from my Frost Place Seminar adventure in New Hampshire about one week ago, and I still have a smile on my face. I suspect that it will stay that way for many months to come as the experience was just that life changing for me. I could have never predicted what an emotional and spiritual journey I would embark on during that week in the mountains, but I’m so thankful that it happened.

During my week long trip, I had the pleasure of staying at the Inn at Sunset Hill. A beautiful bed and breakfast with delicious food and two unforgettable innkeepers named Dick and Sally, who made me feel so at home. (I can’t forget Dudley, their sheepdog. He was pretty great too.)

Each morning I sat in front of a large window and ate breakfast while staring out at the mountains. Views like this were a daily occurrence…

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Then it was off to the White Mountain School for a 2 hour lecture, followed by lunch with the fellow participants, a 3 1/2 hour workshop with your selected group, a break, dinner, and a poetry reading at Robert Frost’s barn. While the schedule changed a bit every day, it was mostly the same which created an organized feel to the entire seminar. I liked knowing what I would be doing every day and I felt comfortable in knowing what each day’s schedule would be like.

Now, when I put it all into a paragraph like that, it seems pretty straight forward and simple, but it wasn’t. The lectures that I mentioned were held by each of the chosen faculty for 2016 and they were mind blowing. Topics had a wide range, from narrative predicaments to exploring classic forms and making them your own. I felt like a student back in school again as I took pages and pages of notes not wanting to forget a single word that was said.

The most beneficial part of the seminar for me was the workshop experience. I was lucky to be put into a group with six very talented individuals, all of which brought a different perspective to the table. My workshop leader was the incredibly inspiring Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon.

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Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon reading at Robert Frost’s Barn

I never thought I’d be so fortunate to spend so much time with someone as courageous and determined as she is. She helped me to learn how to explore my craft in a more efficient way and taught me things that I will carry with me every day as I continue writing poetry. I highly recommend grabbing her books. They’re fantastic.

While I seriously adored every member of my group, I also want to give special mention to Tiana Clark. Over the course of one week, Tiana taught me how to be brave with my poetry and encouraged me to write what my heart tells me to write no matter how scared I am. I’ll be forever grateful to her for that. With that said, go pre-order her chapbook here. It’s dynamite.

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Tiana Clark reading at Robert Frost’s Barn.

Each night spent at Robert Frost’s barn, and at his house in general was a dream come true for me. I’ve long admired the poet, mostly for the terrifying nature to his work that is rarely acknowledged. To spend so much time in the places where he walked filled my lungs with the air I had been craving for so long.

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I found what I was looking for during the Frost Place Poetry Seminar. Being away from my comfort zone, my friends, my boyfriend, it was difficult. However, it forced me to completely focus on my craft, my poetry, and with that I felt my mind expanding. This quote rang in my ears about halfway through the week…

“The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

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That’s exactly how I feel about my experience. Thank you to everyone at the Frost Place Poetry Seminar for all of your support, encouragement, and for just being amazing people. I’ll never forget it. As for what lies ahead…the forecast reads: poetry with a chance of poetry.

Until next time,

Christine