Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Top 5 Resolutions for Writers

 It's that time of year again, time to reflect on our accomplishments and failures, deeds done and undone, as 2014 draws to a close. It's been the best of times, it's been the worst of times, but it's definitely time to take stock, dust ourselves off, and set some sensible resolutions and goals for the coming year. 

A new year, a fresh start, another chance to try and get it right, get organized, be more productive. Well, a girl can dream, can't she?

Since writer's are near and dear to my heart, and because I spend great chunks of my life working with them, I offer up these possibilities for starting 2015 with a clear head, determination, and a goal (or two)!

1.      For years my advice to writers has been "Butt in chair. Write!" and 2015 is no different. WRITE. Write every day. Make time to write. Set a timer and write for thirty minutes. Don't have thirty to spare, make it twenty, make it ten. You work full-time, have a house and family, and responsibilities, and can't possibly find even ten minutes a day? Everyone can find two minutes a day—take two minutes and write a sentence every day. One sentence a day is better than zero sentences a day! So, sit down, turn off your social media alerts, set that timer, and write. No excuses, just SHUT UP, AND WRITE. 
2.     Indulge in some INSPIRATION. Try something new. Try a new genre. Only write romance? Try your hand at a mystery. Try a new style. Always been a pantser? Try being a plotter. Go someplace new, see a movie, read a book you wouldn't normally chose. Take a class. Go to the gym (NOTE: I didn't say join a gym. I said go to the gym.) Enter a writing competition or contest. Volunteer. Walk the neighbor's dog. Take your morning coffee to the park. Just get out, and soak up some new experiences. Your writing will improve, and your readers will thank you for it.

3.     Read. Read. Read some more. READ everything you can get your hands on. Enough said.

4.     BACK UP YOUR WORK. Trust me, you don't want to be the whining writer on Facebook, crying about how you lost ten years worth of work when your hard drive crashed. Get some cloud space. Purchase an external hard drive. Heck, just go buy some thumb drives, they're cheap, portable, and better than crossing your fingers when that blue screen of death appears. 

5.     FINISH. Edit it, test it on your beta readers, get a pro to edit it, then stop. Set a deadline, and stick to it. If you never finish, you can't submit, and if you can't submit, you'll forever be a writer and never be an author. 

Happy New Year! May 2015 be your most fabulous, most productive,
 most successful year ever!

~ The Black Cat 

© 2014 MaryChris Bradley

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Finding Inspiration in Unexpected Places

 I've been thinking about what inspires me to write. This morning it was my old toy chest that I've had since I was a young girl. At the time I didn't appreciate its fine redwood craftsmanship and hand-hammered iron fittings. I was more annoyed with the heavy lid that was hard to hold open. Many times it held captive the toy I absolutely had to have. I wish I knew it's story now. I wonder where it came from. I know that for most of my life it sat on a patio waiting for the warm summer months when children probed its contents and came up with something that they had forgotten they had. It also sat in a garage or two collecting dust and maybe storing something that seemed important at one time.  

My husband recently became inspired by it and started restoring it. He loved the craftsmanship and was enchanted to be reminded that it was a toy chest from my childhood. He rubbed it with sand paper and mended the top where a teenage friend of our sons who lived with us one year, sawed a piece of it off so he could store his clothes inside. He took great care to do these things and by golly, the way I felt about it changed. I took a photo and wrote a poem about it and shared it on Facebook. It brought back a memory or two to other people who were reminded of the places where they kept those things from their youth that were important. It was no longer just a misfit in the corner of the patio.

The box sat out on the porch
most days, too heavy to open.
I wonder what was inside
now that I'm too old to remember.

The buckets and pails of summer
and a swimming cap? A ball and 
the sandbox toys sift through the years,
yet the box lives on.

Sanded now, the colors that were there
melt into the beauty of the muscle used
to change it into a piece of art gone to heart.

It was one small inspiration in a world full of wondrous things.

The other day I was taking a walk and had my camera with me. One house I walked by had a number of decorative angels displayed here and there on their front lawn. I thought they looked kind of tacky until I took a photo and saw something in the photograph that I hadn't seen when just looking. It seemed like they were whispering to each other. This is what they said:

I hear them giggle, knowing me
for only breathing words
to the passing shadows.
What does she know, they say, of flying
or the taste of a tree?

Martie Odell Ingebretsen, was born in Pasadena, California. She studied English literature, creative writing, and child development at various universities. Inspired by her father—whose stories were published in the Saturday Evening Post—she has been writing since the second grade. She strives to create characters that are always learning, growing and finding answers to big questions. Her poetry has been published in journals, magazines, and various anthologies.  She and her husband currently live in California, as do their two sons and four grandchildren. Sweet William, published by Buddhapuss Ink, is her first novella.

Thanks Martie, that was certainly food for thought. So many times we're in such a hurry that we miss seeing the beauty and inspiration all around us every day.
READERS: We hope you enjoyed this week's edition of our #WW Writer Wednesday Series and that we'll see you again next week when we'll be taking a look at writers' resolutions! Till then, "Butt in chair, WRITE!
~ The Black Cat