Holy shit, it’s been a while. When I realized I hadn’t posted all summer, I couldn’t believe it. It’s all good though – it’s been a very busy summer for me. Here are some highlights…
- Traveled for business to Savannah, GA (a city I wanted to visit for the past 15 years and finally had the chance);
- Visited Washington, D.C. (and got engaged! More on that later.);
- Saw my favorite band and had a blast with my best friend (Panda), her daughter, and all our girlfriends who came to town to celebrate summer with DMB;
- Traveled around Indiana for business;
- Worked on my book (no seriously, I’ve finally made some progress!!); and
- Enjoyed some amazing R&R and great family time.
And summer isn’t over yet! That thought alone is making me smile. Now for some randomness about my writing adventures this summer… I mentioned I worked on my book this summer. At the beginning of August, I wrote out a writing schedule, to which I promised I would commit. I’m so happy to report that I’m 100% committed and I’ve made some awesome progress. I finally feel like this story is coming together. As someone who primarily writes nonfiction and poetry, with some prose sprinkled in, I honestly had no idea what I was in for when I just suddenly decided to write fiction. I read a lot of fiction, so I figured I could try my hand at it and give it an honest effort.
My biggest hang up in the beginning?? Making shit up. Oh man, I love making up a good story, but I have always been an honest writer. I finally made myself move past that, though. I literally gave myself a pep talk that went something like this:
“Nicole, you can make this shit up. It’s okay. Let your imagination take over. It will be okay. I promise. Just fucking do it and stop making excuses and make something up. What do you want to read? What kind of story do you want to hear? Write it… now, not later. Polish it later. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? DO IT!”
(Cue that viral Shia LaBeouf video that hit the ‘net earlier this summer).
And it worked. I kicked my ass into gear and I committed to my writing schedule. I’ve solidified my outline and have key plot points ready for chapters. I even have a handful of chapters ready. I have a feeling though, with my planning process complete, this book is going to take a while to complete… but I will make it happen!
I also joined a writing group, thrown together by The Geeky Press. It’s laid back and a great group of people. We just meet up on some pre-scheduled dates (#WritersHack) and hang out for a bit, eat, talk about writing, and write. We hosted our first one-day retreat in July and I think it was a great success. We’re doing another one on November 7 and hosting a weekend retreat in December. My favorite thing about these retreats and hacks is that we actually freaking write. We write whatever we want. The goal is to get words on the page. If you’re interested in joining our shenanigans or want more information on events hosted by The Geeky Press, just check out their website. You don’t have to attend every event nor do you have to pay any dues (the day or weekend retreats have a low cost, though). We just are a group of people who want to write and connect with others who want to do the same.
I have to say, it’s awesome to be back in a community of writers. I’ve missed college mostly for that reason, and now I’ve finally found another place to nurture my talent. I finally stopped procrastinating and became a member of the Indiana Writers Center. I’m looking forward to taking advantage of their member discounts and getting to know the folks there in the coming months.
Speaking of writing communities… this thought brings me to the topic of serialized, web-based literature. Have you heard of websites like Wattpad or Channillo? From what I understand, these sites help you build an audience and network with other readers and writers. You post a chapter at a time. This could be a good thing to do, since I’m getting my feet wet in this category and not quite ready to publish a book just yet, even though I have a solid story plan/outline. I’m considering this route with some of my other fiction (short stories, flash fiction, etc.), but can’t decide if I should with this story or not. If you are familiar with either of these platforms or know of others I should be considering, please let me know in the comments. I want to weigh all my options and could really use some advice!
That’s all for now, folks. I won’t be gone as long as I was before this time… I promise. Peace!
When I was a kid, I thought it was so cool to have parents in a band. My dad was the lead singer, and my mom sang backup. We had a recording studio in our backyard, and when I was in third grade they released an album called Dreams Realized. When the band wasn’t recording, I’d sneak in the studio and sing into the microphone on the stage, pretending I was some huge rock star. In fact, up until I went to college, I thought for sure I’d be famous in the music world one day. (Then I realized I wanted to earn a living without being a starving artist for the rest of my life, so music went on the back burner. I still sing and enjoy music more than anything – I just didn’t make a career of it.) I totally see where I get my passion for writing lyrics and poetry (thanks, Dad) and always love listening to this album to take a trip down memory lane.
Well, a few months ago, my dad asked me if I could get his album online and share with some friends and strangers across the internet. I finally got it out there, via Soundcloud (which was super easy and intuitive, so I can see why many artists use this service). I’ve embedded the playlist below, so please give it a listen and let me know what you think. It’s a great album (of course, I’m probably biased), and tracks 1, 2, 6, and 7 are my personal favorites. I hope you enjoy!
Whew, this thing is dusty! Time to get back in the swing of things…
So, here we are. December 31. Tomorrow, 2015 begins. Can you even believe it? For much of the globe it’s already 2015, but Indianapolis has about 8 hours left of this year. Looking back, it was pretty low-key for me. I’m happy, I’m healthy, and I’m ready to begin another great year.
This will be a big year for me; I can just feel it! Not only do I plan to buy a house with my sweetie, I hope to finally get closer to finishing the novel I’ve started (and restarted several times) this year. Speaking of…
Obligatory New Years “Resolutions”
I’d rather call them goals. Goals are dreams with deadlines, right?
- Finish saving the down payment and purchase our first home.
- Keep working on and (attempt to) finish my first novel. (Oh, and obviously blog more.)
- Work harder on my health and fitness – more yoga!
- Be more considerate of others when making decisions.
- Read at least two books per month.
I think this is a good start. Each of these will make me a better person and help me have a better life, so that is why I’m calling them goals instead of resolutions. The whole resolutions thing to me is hard to follow through with because there’s no accountability. Sure, for the first few weeks we’ll be on fire to stay committed to the resolutions we make today. But then the magic of starting a new year fades away and face it, it’s just another day, another week, another month, and another year gone by. We fall back into our old habits. At least, I know I do.
I’m ready to change that this year. I’m ready to start my 31st year on this planet and make the most of it by working on myself. I want to be a better person, and I’m the only one who can make that happen. So, this list of goals is my attempt to keep myself in check. I’ve set deadlines for numbers 1, 2, and 5. For 3 and 4, I’ll start small and keep it at the forefront of my mind and make them a part of my daily routine.
What are your goals for 2015? How do you plan to carry them out? Share in the comments and let’s help each other make this be the best year yet!
Happy New Year, everyone!
This, my friends, is brilliant! Weird Al is at it again, releasing one new video per day to promote his new album, titled Mandatory Fun. The one released yesterday is titled “Word Crimes” and is absolutely share-worthy.
It’s catchy (you can’t tell me you don’t dance to the tune of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” when you hear it), and will help you polish your grammar skills. Just file this one under “learning can be fun” – you’ll be grooving and cleaning up your grammar simultaneously in no time!
Click here to read the lyrics.
Share with your friends, if not only for a good laugh but to also help them brush up on common grammar mistakes.
Today, our world lost one of the most wonderful souls: Maya Angelou gave up her ghost quietly in her North Carolina home this morning.
Not only was she an accomplished writer, Maya Angelou wore several hats during her 86 years on Earth. Known for her poetry, she was also a civil rights activist, dancer, film producer, television producer, playwright, film director, author, actress, professor (Wikipedia). She published seven autobiographies and was an accomplished poet, in addition to earning several awards and honorary degrees between 1970 and today.
When I say “writing is therapy,” I can’t help but think of Maya Angelou and how she started writing. If you are unfamiliar with her history… she experienced something so traumatic during her early years that prompted her to become mute. Her strength came out in words, giving hope to so many others around the globe.
At age 7, Angelou was raped by her mother’s boyfriend, who was later beaten to death in an assault that some believed was carried out by Angelou’s uncles. The trauma of the rape and her assailant’s death left Angelou mute for six years.
She began writing during that silent period. She would chronicle the first 17 years of her life in the 1969 autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” which her friend, writer James Baldwin, had encouraged her to write.
The book, which covers the racism Angelou had faced in the 1930s and ’40s and her fantasies of being blond and white, is considered an American classic. (Reuters)
Patrik Henry Bass, an editor at Essence Magazine, says “when we think of her, we often think about her books, of course, and her poems… but in the African-American community, certainly, we heard so much of her work recited, so I think about her voice. You would hear that voice, and that voice would capture a humanity, and that voice would calm you in so many ways through some of the most significant challenges.” (NPR)
Oprah Winfrey, who considered Angelou to be not just her mentor but also a very dear friend, will always remember how she lived her life: “She moved through the world with unshakable calm, confidence, and a fierce grace.”
Harold Augenbraum, the Executive Director of the National Book Foundation, stated “we share the gratitude of so many for Dr. Angelou’s contributions to literature, human rights, and social justice. Her legacy is one that all writers and readers across the world can admire and aspire to.”
My favorite Angelou poems will always be Caged Bird and On the Pulse of Morning, which was made famous when she wrote and recited the poem for President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993. Give these a read/listen. Hear her voice shine through her words. Share your thoughts in the comments section, if you’d like.
Her work and words are forever etched in our history and she will not be forgotten, but remembered and celebrated for generations to come.