Writing From Memory

One of the new things I’ve read about, in my CW book so far, is writing from memory, short and long term. Writing from your own thoughts, and memories, can allow you to speak from your own voice and avoid the foreign ‘writerly tone’ some use to meet a reader’s expectations.

One prompt, in the book, said to take a very small memory (nothing extravagant or life altering) and write it down. Start with the words: “I don’t know why I remember…” and just let the words flow. Below is my first attempt at the writing prompt. Enjoy!

 

I Don’t Know Why I Remember

I don’t know why I remember the car ride Tony and I took back when he lived in Davenport. We were in the old, rust red Camry, pulling over at a gas station smack in the middle of nowhere. Half afraid to get out of the car and half excited to just be. Despite his complaints, I bought a bag of sunflower seeds. One empty cup, that hung out with the rest of the rubbish at our feet, worked as a spit cup and clutched companion. The weather is perfect. Florida weather. Weather we moved here for.

A thick breeze blows by and I dangle one hand out the window, wrist bent backwards, fingers flapping like a rubber glove. Our inside joke. I giggle and he looks over with a special shine to his eyes. He gaffs, and laughs at the sight, before his eyes briefly meet mine. It’s happy here, in this place of in between. The jilt of the car, sweetness of new love and the crack of the seed’s shell between my teeth.

It feels like home.

 

Submitting Phoenix to PitchWars

So…I did it.

I actually did it.

Here’s a blurb from the actual site that tells you a little about what PitchWars is:
What is Pitch Wars?

Is it another contest? Oh, no, it’s so much better.

Pitch Wars is a mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each to mentor. Mentors read the entire manuscript and offer suggestions on how to make the manuscript shine for the agent showcase. The mentor also helps edit their mentee’s pitch for the contest and their query letter for submitting to agents. Mentors can participate solo or pair up and co-mentor.

During the agent showcase, each mentee is featured on a post that includes their pitch and the first page of their manuscript. Last year, we had nearly sixty agents participate in the showcase. Participating agents view the posts and make requests. With the help of Pitch Wars 2016, more than 50 authors were offered representation with many snagging book deals shortly after the contest!

So now you know what it is! So, my writer friends, if you would like to participate in PitchWars you have the rest of today and allllll of tomorrow to do so! Here’s the link!

Anyway, so I’ve finished Phoenix and, my, doesn’t it feel good to finally type The End…again. When I revised it the first time, I added a few scenes and took out some things. The second time, when I finished this weekend, I added the new scenes.

I’m really proud of them. Proud of myself. Proud of what I’ve done.

I’ve hit the submit button. It’s out of my hands. The fear is there. So is the excitement.

Let’s get this journey going!!

 

 

First Revision Complete!

I’m officially done with the first round of revisions for Phoenix.

I can’t even believe it.

Not too long ago I was posting about procrastination, issues with editing and my desire to not look at any of the ‘bad writing’ I’d done. I’ve decided to add a few more scenes to Phoenix, as she’s looking a little thin and a tad flat. I actually love what I’ve written so far.

I love Phoenix.

I love her emotional rollercoaster.

I love her want to protect the world.

I love that the suffering is all at her feet. I also, hee hee, love the sex scenes and passionate kisses because…what’s a romantic fantasy without good ole loving. I love it all.

The thing I love most about Phoenix is our relationship. Writer and written. Creator and creation. Drunken dictionary and word vomit.

I only have a few weeks left until I pitch and it’s glorious. I’m moving on to the second round of revisions after I write these scenes and, despite what’s going on in my life, I am write on track to finish before the deadline.

So watch out world! Phoenix is rising.

And rise she will.

 

Good Readdance,

Jade

 

 

P.S. A lot of my writing and hard work was done at a coffee shop. In that same vein, here’s a photo I took at a new coffeeshop. My friend bought me an antique book and made some banana bread. Both were amazing!

colleens present

Discouraging Doubts of Editing

I am a Writer…not an editor. I don’t pretend to be one. I don’t allude to being one.

I spend a lot of my time writing from the heart and getting the creative juices flowing. I’m a conversational writer and that structure doesn’t sit well with everyone. That’s fine! I’ve found my voice and I will use it. Unfortunately, that means mistakes will be made and therefore will need to be corrected.

They say to not worry about the editing or the grammar, initially.
JUST GET THE WORDS OUT! They say.

YOU CAN’T EDIT A BLANK PAGE! They yell.

See?

Yes, that’s all fine and dandy until you finally finish your WIP and you start the editing process and BAM! It’s riddled with creative run on sentences and misplaced commas.

People often think that being a writer is synonymous with having perfect grammar. It is not.

Honore De Balzac was an amazing storyteller. He was a French playwright and novelist. He spun relationships so well you thought these people were apart of your own family. As it stands, he was horrible at grammar and sentence structure. That was even after it’d been edited and translated to English.

That’s just one example.

Enter…procrastination. I finished Phoenix a few weeks ago. I wanted to give it a breather even though I knew I need to start editing and revising. I haven’t started either.

I know that apart of it is fear. As a writer who has been crafting stories since I was a young child, I always knew I would eventually publish. It was never a matter of if but when. That being said, writing a book knowing it would be published, for the entire world to see, is completely different than writing something because I’m obsessed with the story and it wouldn’t let me go.

I’ve written several books. Finished several books. However, Phoenix will be the first book, other than a previous college endeavor, that I will be officially publishing. Phoenix will be under J.B. Jemison. It will be the start of a very long and healthy career as an Author and that is daunting. Very. I can almost taste the fear and anticipate the heat of embarrassment. Not that it will happen, not that I want it to happen…that’s just what my brain does. So, my mind has translated it to heavy procrastination.

Fortunately, I am more than my fear. I am more than failure. I will succeed. The only way I can do that is to revise and edit Phoenix so it is ready to pitch. That is what I will be doing with my weekend, to start.

 

Happy Readdance,

Jade

Cherchez La Vie: June 2018

 

Cherchez la Vie
Look for Life

 

This June’s Cherchez La Vie went amazingly. I actually celebrated on Sunday, which is crazy that I’ve never done that before with, you know…Sunday being my favorite day of the week. I’m glad I did because I’ve never had a Cherchez turn out better than this one.

Itinerary:
I woke up early, a new occurrence for me, and I got out my notecards. It was time to take stock of the last 6 months. A moment of introspection and reflection; see what really happened, what I’ve gone through and where my head is at now. I thought of the things I accomplished from the last Cherchez, in December 2017. I thought of what goals I didn’t meet, what I didn’t even try to do and what was very easy for me to do. Then I thought of the next 6 months, what I want to do, what I think I can do and what I know is life changing.
(The important thing about goal making is being realistic. Yes, it’s important to make goals that push you but it’s also important to know there are steps to everything. Sometimes you have to slowly take each…step…at…a…time instead of expecting to jump right to the top; of weight loss, a finished book or hair growth goals.)

Then I wrote my list of ‘June 2018 Cherchez La Vie’ goals. Your list can be big or small, important things or just a simple To-Do list, anything. I choose to do both and some I roll over from the last list. I have life goals, relationship goals, randomly jotted down goals and also house goals. I have big dreams and I know that every Cherchez I need to be doing SOMETHING that gets me closer to my aspirations.

  1. Completely pack up everything for the move.
  2. Edit and Revise Phoenix.
  3. Prep pitch for PitchWars in August.
  4. Consistently go to gym (roll over)
  5. Find new apt and move
  6. Get rid of unwanted clothes, minimize
  7. Paint at least 1 canvas
  8. Get 401k set up! (Done)
  9. Set new weekly hair routine
  10. Clean apt for move
  11. Buy more book shelves!
  12. Buy a writing desk!
  13. Go to Yoga in the park for the first time (Done!)
  14. Cook steak and potatoes- fancy
  15. Meditate daily for 1 week (Initially)
  16. Write FF Anthology Piece
  17. Consistently write ASR Posts
  18. Officially set up and promote ASR Newsletter
  19. More Photos with Tony
  20. Experience more of the city
  21. Wake up earlier- more often (eek!)
  22. Make female friends- consistent friends (roll over)
  23. Read more (roll over)

After making my list of goals I ate breakfast and then got ready to leave. I attended the Yoga in the park class for the first time! So I can mark that off my list! I was so excited because I loved yoga in college. I was definitely more fit back in college; I ate healthier and worked out more. I didn’t have a car, at first, so I was always moving. Since getting a car, and moving here, I realized that I live a very sedentary life and I don’t eat nearly as healthy as I could. I’ve just recently been trying to do things that can work out my body and my mind simultaneously so this was a great start.

Yoga in park

 

After Yoga I talked about society, culture, and life as a black woman with a new friend. I’ve been looking for ways to enhance my life and having a female friend is definitely a way to do so. I love my guy and all but having someone to chat with, laugh with, hell…giggle with, is very important. I have been missing that since I moved here and I knew creating a book club is one of the best ways to do that.

Once we parted ways I took my time walking through downtown and taking in the weather. I stopped at the library to pick up more books. Even though I read a ton, I could always read MORE and so that’s on the list, of course. So…I sat in the park downtown and read for hours. It was amazing.

Then I got rained on.

So I ran to get food, bagged up my books and walked back to the car. Having curly hair is a great thing in this case. My books were tightly protected so I could really take my time, breathing in the rain, the scent of moisture and peace.

After I got home I relaxed with my guy, read, wrote and reflected over how the day had passed. I couldn’t help the sense of true peace that seemed to heal all my worry and strife for the day. I could truly sit and not feel like I should be up working more, fighting more, getting more strength, breathing more…I could just stop.

And that is what this holiday does for me. That is what Cherchez La Vie can do for you. It’s looking for life, searching for life, searching for THE life. Creating this holiday in high school was one of the best things I’ve ever done in my entire life.

So participate! Go head, it’s not too late to make your list of goals for the next 6 months. The next Cherchez is December 30, 2018. You can change your life in that time. I’ve done it! Just think, on my goal list for December 2017 I wrote “Start school to finish bachelors degree” and now I’m finishing my second semester. I also had “Write and pitch a book” on that list and I’m actually pitching Phoenix next month! Trust me…it works!

 

Cherchez la Vie
Look for Life

Happy Readdance,

Jade

We Should Teach Creative Writing in Schools

This is a long one, so buckle up. (or in, or down, or whatever). Get ready. Stay for the ride, maybe you’ll learn something. Maybe you’ll…just pretend you did. Hehe.

It actually surprises me that this isn’t something we already do. I mean, yes, in the times of the past maybe ‘we’ thought that this was ‘all just woo-woo stuff’ that we were giving into. For some reason ‘we’ thought that encouraging our children to open their minds and believe in things that didn’t exist meant that we were not being good parents. It meant that we weren’t preparing them for the “real” world where things are hard, and tough, and fierce, and angry and streets were dirty. It was like we thought that we couldn’t allow them to fly free and they wouldn’t see the world around them. It was as if we never used our imagination to help develop who we became.

It’s widely known that ‘we’ believe you lose your ‘inner child’ when you get older. Only thing is…you don’t lose it, it’s suppressed, stolen, beaten and trampled by adults who constantly say “that’s not real” or “that would never actually happen” or “life isn’t so happy” or even “wake up!”. Yes, at some point we do need to have a discussion of this sort but we always fail to realize that children are smarter than we think they are.

How did we forget that when we were kids ourselves we had imaginary friends and we poured fake tea and we danced circles in frilly dresses or chomped wood with plastic saws? We knew we weren’t drinking anything. We knew we weren’t princesses or construction workers or true magicians. We just didn’t care. At some point, after the suppression of our passion we cross from being a “knowing someone who enjoys” to “a person who is unknowing, dying and actively disliking everything”.

Break here for a deep breath.
Okay, Go.

Well, I’m going to tell you a small story as to how my own experiences with school and writing and creating my own worlds changed my life. Then I’m going to share with you a few bits from others that I found while doing research for speech class. Yes, they will be credited and citations will be below. Far below. Don’t worry, I did my homework and I actually enjoyed it. Ha! These are the friends that I spoke of in the title, that are not really friends. Just those more qualified than me to talk about the subject of child development and the need for play acting in the kiddos.

When I was about 7 I wrote my first story. I wrote it down on crumpled paper and it took me forever to do it. At the time, I thought I was writing a book, which makes me laugh inside as it was only about 4 to 5 pages. It was about a dog and a cat that truly loved each other. They played all day and all night and everything was just perfect. It was all just perfect until the dog died. The cat was sad, it’s best friend was gone. What was the cat to do? It moped and cried. At the end of the “book” the dog came back to life and the cat was happy! THE END!

No really, that was the end. I was so proud of myself. My heart was full. I couldn’t believe it. I’d written a book! Immediately I turned around and went to my mother. Read it! Read it! I was so excited. She read it and I sat there with twiddling fingers and tapping feet. And then there was the Look. You know, the one someone gives you when they know you want good news but all they have is bad news and they want to let you down softly. That one.

“Umm…this would never happen,” she starts. She proceeded to tell me about how cats and dogs are never friends, how they don’t experience feelings of love and loss the way we do, and how once something dies it can’t come back to life. That’s JUST the way the world works! At first, I was broken. Then, I was angry. I was so defensive and offended. I can do anything I want with my story! I wrote it. It was my book and no one could tell me what to do with my book.

And that is how I knew I wanted to be a writer. For the next ten years I continued to write stories about opposing characters and things that ‘could never actually happen’. During this time, I didn’t let my mother read anything that I’d written. I couldn’t let her stop me from becoming a god to my characters and have their fearful bodies shaking in their boots. Couldn’t have her telling me I couldn’t resurrect my Lazarus and keep his humanity to fall in love with some chick with mousy brown hair and a big obsession with finger blades!

But it wasn’t just her, when I was a young troubled girl trying to make it through the ins and outs of my foster home I wrote like crazy. I filled composition notebook after composition notebook of character ideas and story arcs and I read as much as I could. Books of all genres were fodder for my tiny fast fingers and I soaked in as much of their imagery and filth as I could. Only to spew it back out in the form of inspiration and child like ambitions.

Ok, that just went on an odd tangent but you get the point. I didn’t even get to the part I was trying to say. I loved it and it changed my life. I had a teacher in the fourth grade who gave in to my childish wants and desires. She suggested so many books to me I can’t even remember them all. She said ‘one day you will grow up and be a writer’. From her I got Melusine, Summer of my German Soldier and the original readings of The Giver. She told me I was reading and writing on a high school level and she was impressed with me. Blah, blah, blah. Of course, at that time I didn’t care about all of that. I just wanted to write.

Then in eight grade, and I’ll never forget, Mr Vincent Potts awarded me with an English plaque at the end of the school year. It was my first time back in school with the ‘norms’, meaning I was no longer in the private school that had fostered my introverted nerdiness. He would read my writings and give me real feedback. He, too, told me that I would one day become a great writer. This was at the time when things were confusing, I didn’t believe him and yet I did.

I had an english teacher in high school that was mean as hell. To everyone else. Or at least that’s what I remember them saying. All the time. I loved her. She was great. I made my first friend in that class. I wrote a book complete from beginning to end at her request. She pushed me and pushed me and I knew, one day I would be a writer. And I am. *Mild shoulder shrug while throwing up in my mouth a little*

So that was me.

Now, from my fake friends I gleaned that this actually has an effect on children that should not be ignored. Not just expanding the mind by writing down things you create from your own imaginations but also pretending that there are things before you that aren’t there. No, not crazy speak, just childhood word vomit and seeing spies in sky.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge” -Einstein. Okay, okay. I apologize for this one but we all know it. We know how important imagination, excitement and intriguing mystery is. We learn this from ‘woman is a grinch at Christmas’ or ‘CEO learns to love’ movies that we all watch as adults to make us think that rich people aren’t happy or sit around all day without an ounce of make believe.

Another… There are benefits to pretend play that involves “fantasy, make-believe, symbolism, organization, cognitive integration, and divergent thinking; it allows the expression of both positive and negative feelings” from Psychologist Sandra Russ*. This is one we also know. When you are allowed to create, to push the envelope back and forth, to bend the rules and then punish your characters for breaking them, you get to experience both sides of things. You allow yourself, and readers, to learn the consequences of life and how to react to betrayal, anger, excitement, the works.

Dr. Catherine Neilsen’s voice on enhancing the imagination and it’s effects through to adulthood can be reduced to 5 reasons as to why creativity is important. I’m just going to list these and put my summaries of each because…that article is long and I read it myself and gleaned what I could so you don’t have to. Here*:

  1. Social development- learning cooperation and compromise with friends! Yay!
  2. Language development- expanding vocabulary and understanding inflection.
  3. Emotional development- positive and negative feelings and working through things in a ‘made up’ world! Whoop! Becoming a god with a conscious!
  4. Physical development- using physical tools help with expression and muscle development. Writing! Typing! Wooden swords and play tea sets!
  5. Thinking skills- Children think in magical ways and use their imagination to stretch their minds. -and develop their own thoughts and personalities despite the adults proverbial sodomizings! (yes, I made that plural…and?)

So there you have it. We should teach creative writing in schools. I daresay we should. I say we go for it and we teach them what their mind can do, what it can create. You know…this might just work out for us in the end. (See above 5 ways). We MIGHT just get some decent human beings that are accepting of others (skin color, orientation, freaking accents (personally speaking here) and family situations). We MAY just come across an entire generation of people who want to think up all the mighty things they can do and actually DO them.

So many people say that focusing on the false and on creative writing is a waste of time and there are so many ‘more productive’ things we can teach children but I disagree. I believe that by encouraging them to be themselves, see their invisible friends and more we are actually setting them free. I believe that if we taught our children how to deal with their thoughts, use their own imagination to build worlds and as coping mechanisms, they would be better human beings and the earth would be a better place.
But that’s just me. A girl who dreamed she’d one day be a writer. Who took a few detours until she realized her dream was within reach. Who decided…hey! It will happen because I dreamed it so and now…I’ve done the work to do so.

So…let me know what you think below. Do you agree? Has creative writing effected you? Would you like to be a writer but never thought you could? Do you think that encouraging creativity and play acting in children can really cause them to become better humans beings? Tell me!

Happy Lifeness,
Jade

References:

  1. Wallace-Segall, Rebecca. “Plea for Creative Writing in Schools”. The Atlantic.com. The Atlantic Monthly Group. 4, Oct, 2012. 2018. https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/10/a-passionate-unapologetic-plea-for-creative-writing-in-schools/263212/
  2. Suckerman, Simone. “5 Benefits of Imaginative Play”. LivingandLoving.co.za. Living and Loving Magazine. 3 August. 2017. 2018. https://www.livingandloving.co.za/child/5-benefits-of-imaginative-play

Writing on Holidays!

The great thing for people that don’t really celebrate holidays, so…me, is that we can do whatever we want.

Yes, this may often times be the same exact thing that we do on our normal days off and that’s ok. For me, holidays are days off work that I can enjoy not feeling guilty. I mean, I wouldn’t anyway but this is a special case. I stopped celebrating holidays when I stopped really having an excuse to do so. I had no one to share them with and I enjoyed that time and a half pay that you get. Fortunately, I have found a job that still pays us for gov’t holidays. So I can enjoy an extra day off with no stress. Therefore, I shouldn’t have any excuse as to why I can’t write, right?

Wrong.

white sweater

The reason why I started the DWC was because I knew that I could count on myself to procrastinate. No more. I have distractions on holidays. I live far away from my old family and I don’t have a ton of friends that could guilt trip me into doing things or getting out of the house. My one writing friend actually came over so that we could go to Starbucks and write together. It was great. The fantastic thing is that I showed up a little late, sat my butt in the chair and started a 30 minute word sprint right away. I knew what I wanted to write and a new chapter was a fantastic place to start.

1530 words later, about 4 pages, and my creative writing juices were flowing freely. I felt very excited. I like days that I don’t have to write. I like to be able to get my keyboard up and running and do it because my mind whispers ‘hey, you, it’s time to write’.

Anyway, so here I am, on the cusp of the new Bachelorette episode and I’m writing another blog post. Now, I told you that I am trying to write more posts, and not just book reviews, and I’m delivering on that.

*Finger wiggles*

Happy Writtance!
Jade

P.S. What do you like to do on holidays? Do you spend the time with family? If you are a writer, do you carve out time to write? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

DWC: Daily Writing Challenge

I am freaking excited!

I am ecstatic!

Alright, so I spent the majority of my life…procrastinating. I know it. I’ve always known it. I think it stems from when I was a child and I would read like crazy and I would put everything off. I didn’t mind not getting anything done. I just wanted to escape the woes of the world and read the rest of my life away. I believe that this greatly instilled in me an sense of timelessness. Around me, I built a wall of  ‘I can do it later, right now I’m reading‘ and no one corrected me.

Now, as an adult, I find that I can be productive and do this. I often times put off things that aren’t as important to do things that are. This is funny because recently I watched a TedTalk (I believe) that said productive procrastinators are a thing!

One thing that I’ve found I do is write very spontaneously. I get the urge to write and I can bang out 10,000 words in one sitting. Then, I wouldn’t write for days, sometimes even weeks. That’s just crazy to me.

This past year, I’ve made some connections that have really made me think about my goals as a writer. I knew that if I ever wanted to achieve my dreams, especially within my time line, I would have to start taking things seriously. I know that I want to pitch my current WIP during PitchWars this August. In order to do that, I need to make some changes over the next few months and also for the future. I came up with DWC, logically named, the Daily Writing Challenge. Heehee.

I planned to do it for 30 days, to start. I’m currently in day 17. I am not just counting words written for my current WIP, Phoenix, though. I am also counting things that I write that are not so creative. Speeches, reviews, reports for school, etc. If I am using my brain to write, at all, I am counting the words.

To me, this helps keep the momentum going, especially on days that I can’t write creatively. It’s worked beautifully. Using Google Sheets, I’ve created a worksheet grid that shows how much I am writing every day. I have it filtered to add the sum of words everyday and also the average. I have written 20,805 words (that I’ve logged) so far and I have an average of 1,300 words a day. I know that to a seasoned writer, this doesn’t seem like that big of a deal but to me it’s amazing. Without NaNoWriMo in November (wrote 50k+) and CampNaNo in April (Wrote 15k+), I don’t usually get in that many words in a month.

So yes, I plan to write every single day and let the majority of words be on my current WIP. I plan to update more, write reviews more and to also update you all on DWC!

Good Writtance,

Jade