Writing

Do what scares you

How many times have I heard that?  As a writer and an introvert the list of ideas that scares me is long and intimidating.

When I decided to throw my hat into the writer’s ring, I did so tentatively, cautiously.  I acted on my desire to write since childhood, a dream I abandoned as a teenager because I thought I’d never be able to make a living at it.  Writing was the one gift that I was given that I truly loved, and I wanted to share that gift with the world.  Just the thought of that vulnerability, exposing the soft underbelly of what little talent I may have, was almost debilitating in its scariness.

My first blog scared the shit out of me in the beginning.  I perched my hands on the edge of the keyboard scared to death that not only would I not earn any readers, but I’d be the laughing-stock of the internet.  At my husband’s urging, I did it.  And I don’t regret it.

I began Scattering Moments in 2011.  It wasn’t a great blog but it was good.  I met quite a few writer friends there and I learned a lot about what writing my audience liked and what my strengths as a writer were.  Eventually, I closed that site down because I hadn’t quite learned what I should hold back on a blog and what I needed to keep for publication.

I joined our local library’s writer’s group and, excited as I was, I was terrified to share what I had written.  I was intimidated by the other members at first because a couple of them actually went to college to hone their craft.  I hadn’t done that.  My degree was in Elementary Education.  What if I went there and they heard what I had written and thought I wasn’t much of an attribute for their group?  What was I, really?  I felt like a washed-up failure of a teacher who dipped her toe into the Mommy Blogging universe because being a stay-at-home-mom was driving me bat shit crazy. It turned out that all the worry was for naught.  Not only did I actually have something to give the group, the feedback I got from the essays I shared helped bolster my self-esteem and gave me the courage I needed to keep going.  It gave me the courage to publish my first book, Lemonade and Holy Stuff:  Collected Essays.

Lemonade and Holy Stuff‘s publication has been such a gift for me.  Not only do I feel vindicated as a writer because so many readers have loved it, but I also met an amazing string of women writers as a result.  I really feel as if I’ve found my tribe with writers like Sarah Cottrell, Tori Nelson, Lisa Kramer, Kathryn McCullough, Theresa Linden and so very many more.  (Please click on their names to check out their work.  They are amazing women.)

Because I believe that doing what scares us is also what helps us grow, I’m sticking my neck out again.  This Saturday, armed with an essay and my much more travel friendly husband (I get lost after the end of my street), I’m going to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  There I will meet the folks in charge of that city’s incarnation of Listen To Your Mother, a professional show that lends a voice to motherhood.  I will be auditioning.

My knees are knocking.

I’m losing sleep because I’m terrified.

But, I’m doing it.  I’m going to share my story before an audience of people.  I’m hoping to come back with an invitation to be part of the experience. Even if I don’t, that’s okay.  The only true failure is in never trying, and that simply will not do.

 

 

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Writing

Blog Hop: What drives this writer?

Author-friend Julie Frayn invited me to a blog hop.  Among her books are It Isn’t Cheating If He’s Dead, Suicide City and the recently released Mazie Baby.  She’s a hard-working accountant by day and an author by night.  Did I mention she’s won awards for her work?  Yeah.  She’s tearing up the writing world as an indie author.  Keep an eye on her.  You’ll want to say you knew her when….julie

So, the rules.  There are questions to answer and a “torch” to pass on.

1.  What are you working on?

Currently, I’m working on raising two boys, one of which is a teen, so, you know, that should be enough.  But it’s not.  I spend what little free time I have writing essays about the above mentioned boys, my husband, my dog, and pretty much any other innocent person who should cross my path and get my attention.  Back in November I suffered from a pretty heinous case of writer’s block because of a butt load of issues.  My writer’s group suggested that I try my hand at writing something outside my comfort zone.  By January I followed their advice.  In addition to two blogs (this one and my weight loss journey at Plus Size Mama), I write essays (some of which you can read in my book Lemonade and Holy Stuff) and am trying my hand at fiction, penning a paranormal mystery.

2.  How does my work differ from others in its genre?

When it comes to my essays, honesty is key.  The essay is, by nature, a piece of non-fiction.  However, mine aren’t just run-of-the-mill.  I’m not afraid to explore the stuff that really hurts, the stuff many moms, wives, and daughters think but never lend a voice to.  I don’t shy away from admitting that mothering isn’t this wonderful, lazy walk through a flower filled field.  It sucks.  A lot.  And the field has a few cow pies along the way.  However, there are still flowers and we should do more than notice them.  We should treasure them.

My paranormal mystery deals with murder, so you’d think it is a pretty weighty subject.  There’s a lot of humor infused in it, also.  I haven’t read many murder mysteries that were funny, but mine is.  Go figure.

3.  Why do I write what I do?

Why do you breathe?  Same answer.  Because my brain says I have to.  I’ve written since I was young and it’s not something I can turn on and off at will.  An idea gets stuck in my brain and it won’t leave me be until I process it through writing.  It’s that simple.

4.  How does my writing process work?

There’s supposed to be a process?  News to me.  What I need to say comes when it comes. Not until recent years have I taken my writing seriously.  I used to just scribble things into a journal and that was it.  I’ve always thought of stories but never written them down.  I guess now that’s my process.  Actually writing them down.

 

Now for the fun part.  Passing the torch.

sarahThe lucky hopper is Sarah Cottrell. She’s a blogger for The Bangor Daily News.  You can check out her humorous posts at Housewife Plus.  She is a member of the Stay-At-Home-Mom Club and proud herder of two loud boys. She earned her MFA in 2012 and then accidentally washed it in a load of laundry. Sarah’s work can be found on popular websites like Mamalode, BlogHer, and Scary Mommy. Her work will appear in two new parenting anthologies in 2015.  You can find her at:

Blog:  http://housewifeplus.bangordailynews.com

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/housewife_plus

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/housewifeplus

 

 

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