Weekly Writing Reflection

Good News, Bad News

The blog section of my author website, here, has been rather quiet lately. Please accept my apology for that! The semester started about five weeks ago and teaching five courses (four in composition!) is quite the load. Between course preparation, grading essays, and attending countless committee meetings, service opportunities, and etc., I’m still amazed that I manage to find time to do anything else.

That being said, I have been trying to keep up with my writing, somewhat. I use physical journals most of the time, at least for musings and idea generation, which is why not much has appeared here. I also developed an online writing group which got started on September 1st. My first contribution went through last week and the feedback that I did receive (only three out of eight members responded, unfortunately) was mostly positive. I received some great thoughts and suggestions, too, particularly about where things can be cut in order to get to the point, and where things are confusing (the conclusion, which I knew I was struggling with!)

Despite being mostly stalled on major writing goals, however, I have received two pieces of good news: publications! In the last week, two of my pieces of creative nonfiction have been accepted for publication. The first, “I Still Believe in Words” will be appearing at Brave Voices Magazine in mid-October. The second, “Five Years, Thirty: A Reflection,” is being anthologized in a print edition titled, Emerging Writers: An Anthology of Nonfiction. That title will be available on October 30th.

I also recently submitted a more experimental piece of short/flash fiction, and I’m hopeful for another acceptance (of course, my track record shows, as most writers’ records probably do, that the rejections far surpass the acceptances.) Still, I’m very proud of this piece; it is, I think, a provocative statement on racism, abuse of power, and immigration in the United States. It took a long time for me to get it “right,” at least as far as I’m concerned, so I hope someone else finds it interesting enough to share with an audience.

Anyhow, if nothing else, my two recent publication acceptance emails have truly stoked my writing flame, as it were. I get so bogged down in the day-to-day that, much of the time, I forget to do what it is I need to do, which is to write. Hearing from publishers who think your work has value and meaning does much to reinvigorate the spirit! Onward!

Weekly Writing Reflection

Routine is Hard. Fear is Real.

I’m having such a difficult time finding a routine for myself, where writing is concerned. I did a pretty decent job, all summer, of organizing the majority of my days in order to find time for work, exercise, and reading/journaling, but I never managed to stick to my promised intentions for writing hours.

That will have to change, though, as two things become more pressing: first, my need/desire to get more serious with my writing; second, the commencement of my “Writing Together Writer’s Group,” which is set to begin on September 1st. How can I participate in, let alone lead, a writing group if I’m not prioritizing my own writing?

One future calendar consideration that actually leaves me feeling somewhat positive is the fact that I have only 5 classes this coming semester instead of the 6 I had in the Spring (let’s hope that stays true!) In addition, two of them are online, meaning I have just 3 on campus (one of which is a literature course which, while still time consuming, is not as time consuming as composition courses re: grading, especially.) This means I have four heavy-work load classes plus one medium-load, instead of six heavy-load.

I’ve also set my schedule for mid-day classes, because I’m not a morning person. Last semester, the sixth class that was added to my schedule very late also happened to be an 8am course. That literally knocked me out of the game for the entire semester because I simply do not function if I have to get up at 5am. I have tried for months to make mornings my writing time, getting up an hour or two earlier than necessary in order to have my undisturbed time, but even this doesn’t work, despite the fact that it is voluntary and something I look forward to, rather than an “imperative” like teaching a class, on which I can’t just skip out.

So, there are some considerations still to be made regarding my own personal schedule, but I’m hoping that my work load and work schedule for the semester will make things a bit easier/more functional. I’m also thinking ahead to Spring 2019 and have designed what I think will be an even more conducive schedule. I need to fit in other professional responsibilities, like service and conferences, too, so that’s something else that needed to be considered.

Anyway, those things are getting better slowly but surely, and as I get more experience with different types of course loads/teaching schedules, I learn what’s actually best for me. That’s only the first part of the issue, though. The second part is deciding what I should be writing. I’ve been torn, lately, between long-form fiction (contemporary adult and/or young adult novel) and creative non-fiction/essay. Most of my experience and comfort is in the latter, but my desire, lately, has been to write the former. I’ve had an idea for a novel in my head for two months, and I started jotting down a number of ideas in my little notebook. It’s the book I feel I should write, but considering I’ve never written much fiction before, I’m fearful. This fear is what, more than anything, is keeping me from creating a successful routine.

I’m afraid that nothing will come out, or that what does come out will be terrible. And so I refuse to begin. This had been subconscious for quite some time, but I’ve realized recently that it is the reality. Now the big question is, how to overcome it? The simplest answer is, of course, “just sit down and do it!” But has that ever really worked for anyone? I mean, really? Fear is a more difficult thing than we like to acknowledge. I refuse to remain crippled by it, but I also refuse to underestimate it or to treat myself like some nonplussed hero.

Hero or not. At a certain point, the avoidance has to stop.

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