Is writing ever wasted?

“Work hard for what you want because it won’t come without a fight.”~Leah LaBelle, Canadian musician

Wrapping up the Month of Little Things is a photo reminder of those precious moments. It’s easy enough to do; there are a lot of phone apps out there for you to create A Picture A Day composite. I use Photo 365, because if your day is too awesome for one memory, this app lets you post more than one photo to the day, even though only one is visible on the calendar. I don’t stress if I miss a day or three, but since I take so many pics and screenshots, I almost always fill a box.

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I spy a happy plant–Sprout is a baby tree, actually–WiiFitness activity, Swarm checkin moments and other celebrations. and coffee shops. Three days in a row writing in coffee shops

Speaking of writing, remember that brief tirade of stress yesterday about my contest and procrastination? I chose to cut one entry from the final submission package, which was, surprisingly, a good thing.

I posted a photo yesterday on Instagram of the holiday memoir I was working on. That’s the one I removed from the contest submission. The writing of it was not a failure, it was not wasted time.

First off, that piece only somewhat fit the category requirements for Holiday Memoir. The event I wrote about did happen at Christmastime, but it didn’t have anything to do specifically with the holiday. I liked that entry, but I found a better one from an earlier piece of writing that came from my journal. In fact, all three pieces were previous half-written material, but they fit the contest requirement because none of them have been published.

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Farewell…for now

So that vignette didn’t make it. Big deal, or no big deal. Does that leave me with another half-finished piece of writing? Absolutely. But now I have a piece that I can tweak into something else in the future. Besides, I would have had to do some serious editing to make that fit the required word count, and I was not prepared to do that. I let it go.

I had to edit the other three entries anyway, and I forgot how tough tight writing is. Every word occupies valuable real estate on the page. The word count for poetry was 100; mine was 85, cut down from 120 words. the Holiday Memoir category was between 200-400 words; I got mine down from 533 to 371 words. The First Page of a Novel had a word count of 250; I made it at 199 words. Since I waited until the 11th hour to submit–literally, about 11:30pm–there was no way I would’ve been able to do justice to make that 789 word moment into a cohesive, intriguing 400 word story. I cut it entirely.

When I wrote it, I expected to have a ruthless editing session to make it work, but by the time I got past the backstory into the actual event, it was a mess. It takes a talented writer to condense 400-ish words, chopping a piece in half. It also takes time. I have the talent but not the time.

Still, what made that exercise so good is that I was writing. I wasn’t spending time planning or blogging or planning blogposts. I wasn’t editing or rewriting or thinking about writing–I was writing. Not journaling; creative writing with a purpose. I felt free. I missed that feeling of initial creation. I’ve been so bogged down in external nonsense that I forgot to write for fun. That’s one of my ROW80 goals achieved.

Party On! the first weekly #ThrowbackThursday bloghop

Who wants to PARTY…!?!?!

The newest blog party has hit the Internetosphere: #ThrowbackThursday Link Party. You can read all the fine print here on the Official Link Page, but I’ve summarized it below.

The three co-hosts of this adventure are:
Adventures of a Jayhawk Mommy, a woman who writes “about my life. I enjoy reading, cooking, and drinking way too much caffeine; basically anything I need to do to survive motherhood.”
Part-Time Monster, a blogger who is “a reader, writer, and observer, a lover of strange and impossible things, a feminist, and a pop culture nerd.”
The Qwiet Muse, a newish blogger self-described as someone who writes “about about life and love, the good and the bad, the serious and the silly to retain what is left of my sanity.”

What makes this bloghop so different from the rest?
This party is about sharing blog posts from our past…30 days or older. “You can shine it up so it sparkles again or just leave it as it is. You might want to include an update at the end or not. It’s all up to you.”

There is only One Rule:
1–The post you add must be at least 30 days old. The older, the better.

The party starts on…you guessed it!…Thursdays every week. Revisit a favorite post from your past and post your link here, anytime between each Wednesday through Sunday night.

Don’t forget to read and share some love to the other posts in the link up. 
My inaugural post is yet another example of what The Universe tells me is my February theme: revisit the little things.

Today is about the choices you make

“People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.”~John C. Maxwell, American clergyman

It’s little things that change your day and alter your mood.

It was a crazy day at work in the morning. I mean, weird crazy busy. I was a bit cranky because of that and rescheduling doctor appointments and then having my “regular” table at Starbucks occupied.

I was settling into the less-than-perfect table when the guy next to me waves at me and points. He wears an orange knit cap and bright orange t-shirt, jamming to some music he was listening to. He pulled his headphones off to say that he liked my socks. “Those are cool socks,” he said, grinning and nodding his head in respect for someone who is funky enough to wear multi-colored plaid socks. At least that’s what I like to think. Day brightened!

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Goodbye January. Hello Month 2!

That’s a good thing because I am still torn from last night’s contest entries in the Specialty Craft Articles and Personal Blog categories. Dare I say, I write too well to choose just two entries each? That is a darn good problem to have.

I am a writer. I say that with no shame. Yes, I am a talented writer. Ditto, no shame. I embrace my creative work and know that even if I don’t place in the contest that I have still won.

How different my writing is today compared to a year ago. I didn’t realize the changes until I scrolled through every blog post of mine looking for something award-worthy. I promote my books less and my share my experiences more. I give advice, I discuss my struggles, I open up to my passions and I have fresh funness with everything. Part of that comes from refocusing my life and my blog accordingly. Not to get all transcendental on you, I realized that Zentangle was distracting me from writing. I needed to step back and focus on my forever passion: writing.

What do I like about my writing? My blog, I appreciate the variety of topics I choose, the events I participate in, the knowledge I share. Of my articles, I enjoy the tight writing I do, weaving creative words and phrases into the text as if they were always meant to be there. I’m fortunate to have a community of supportive blog readers–that’s you!–and a thoughtful, trusting editor.

Even here, now, it’s hard to still grasp how important these changes are for me. But last night, as I weaved through the blogposts and flipped through magazines, I was impressed with my work, more than I expected. I’m exploring these thoughts over the next couple of days, and I hope you will grasp some strength and perspective from me to apply to your own self.

Today, just compliment someone’s socks or shoes or purse or watch or coat or hairstyle. You have the power to make them smile.

This #WeekendCoffeeShare is worth writing about

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”~Maya Angelou, American poet

If we were having coffee, I’d share a bunch of my writing news today.

I gave my first radio interview Wednesday. The Michigan Literary Network approached me to discuss my writing career on the air. Even with a brief review of potential questions…well, I described my initial thoughts a few days ago in this post. Listen to my interview here and tell me how it is; I’ve been too self-conscious to listen to it yet.

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July 2015: parties, awards, writing…and–of course–coffee

My DadMemoir is going slower than I hoped. However, I’ve scheduled actual writing time on my calendar to help me focus on that. My calendar now shows designated writing time, for whatever I choose at that moment. The memoir is still a struggle. Are you struggling with your work/draft-in-progress? Just when I think the memoir is in fine shape, I stumble on a chapter that needs rearranging much less revising.

I’m working to place a sample of my writing on my site. People say that’s a good idea, and I agree. That, however, takes some time to set up, possibly resigning my tabs and/or content first, so that’s something floating in the background as I focus on other writing projects.

Don’t ask me about my #ROW80 goals. Completing those is a pathetic mess, so let’s move on to something more positive.

I officially registered for NFPW Conference. You recall that I was blasted excited to receive a first-timer grant to pay for the conference fee. I’m going to Alaska! Still, additional expenses–airfare and hotel, for example–are daunting, which is why I started a crowdfunding campaign. Shameless self-promotion: please visit my GoFundMe site and help me defer costs as I go there to accept my two National awards.

You’ll see several photos on my daily calendar of my husband and his laptop. That’s time spent writing together, which is a relatively new super-cool development.

Looking at the summary from my Photo 365 app, you’ll see there’s Scrapbooking time with my Michigan Scrapbooked Magazine editor. Look at my Deadwood Writers’ Group, a fabulous critique group meeting every first and third Wednesdays. Our next meeting is this week, and I may submit a piece, but the queue is getting full. Flashback to The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers event, supporting a fellow writer and amazed by the overall experience. Think a combination mixing spoken word with a public reading. Leaves you breathless. Thanks to my Timehop app, there’s a sad Foursquare checkin: the defunct bookstore chain, Borders.

And selfies. So many selfies. What can I say? I’m just too darn stinking’ cute.

So tell me, what’s been going on in your life this week?

Yes, you should remember little moments

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”~Winston Churchill, English statesman

NOTE: apologies to Diva visitors; I initially uploaded last week’s linky code to this week’s challenge.

Do you remember last month? Heck, do you remember yesterday?

I appreciate the little things, yet sometimes I need a visual reminder of those little things so I can remember to appreciate them in the future. What about you? Do you forget little things like making all the green lights on the drive home? While that’s not a good example of capturing the image on film/digital media–always keep both hands on the wheel while driving and make bluetooth, hands-free phone calls–what are some tiny things that made your days?

For me, I looked at my phone at 4:44 on May 4th–Star Wars Day–and was able to capture that moment with a reminder pop-up on my phone’s screen. Cool coincidence!

My tree. I see her death and her rebirth. Follow the full journey over at #TheWritersTree on my Instagram feed.  I am so pleased, nervous, scared, happy and joy-full over her daily growth and change. Little changes every day: a new bud here, a larger leaf furl the next.

Zentangle classes at Great Lakes Mega Meet and Baker’s Studio. Happy students. Stunning images.

Back on the WiiFit, the highest step scores to date, and I’m lookin’ fine doing this.

A navy blue evening sky. Creating my first refrigerator magnet haiku on my new phone app. Taco Tuesday–I had totally forgotten about that! An inspirational cough drop wrapper. Funky manicure color. Calming moment sitting on a wall one evening next to a highway. Yes, I found that relaxing, and I want to do it again.

I note my lack of coffeeshop photos, signaling a lack of writing. I miss that. Reminders don’t always have to be positive, but they shouldn’t make us feel guilty. I’m not, just sad that I didn’t make the time.

In a moment to make more time for things I like comes this week’s Diva Zentangle Challenge 220 is the monthly Use My Tangle (UMT) post.

I have some half-finished tiles that I carry around in my Zentangle leather wallet–thanks to Laura, the Diva herself and the Blog Friendship Cup–and those tiles annoy me. Every time I look at them. It’s an incomplete feeling, a stubborn emptiness, an almost-hatred for their stalled completion. I decided to get them out of my life, and wallet, to make room for new, blank creativity. Incorporating a Diva Challenge into one of those was an increased challenge.

I not going to tell you what was new and what was old, but I was thrilled enough that my hands were not steady. The lines on All Boxed Up are uneven, but it’s a comfortable, flowing tangle full of auras. I like that aspect of tangles, and I like the sense of happiness at reviving an older, unfinished tile.

I have two more tiles like that–at least that I know of. This is exciting.

Another little moment to remember. What about you? Is this one of those moments?

Dancing in memories: a reflection of April

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”~Peter Drucker, American businessman

Back to my regular blogging schedule now that the AtoZ Challenge has ended. Did I complete the challenge? No…and yes.

I did not post all of my alphabet posts on the day-of alphabet days. Why the delay? One: Life interfered. I took some vacation, had a minor house issue which required major effort to contain, and bought and installed a new computer and printer, the latter being not as easy a venture as I expected. The trip to State College to see the Penn State Blue-White game was the highlight. That involved daily Creamery ice cream cones, my husband’s first venture into The Phyrst bar, shopping, photos at the Lion and on the Beaver Stadium football field. That trip was followed by a mini-trip to visit his folks: dinner, a trip to quaint Doylestown and lots of puppy play time.

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The wonders of April 2015

I exercised more on my WiiFit–and it shows;
see Day 14–attended my friend’s book signing, bought three bags of used books for my Found Poetry Zentangle class next week and saw my baby turn 200K in our driveway.

Lots of little things make up one big life. Remember that.

But the second reason all of my AtoZ posts are not posted as of this blog post is that I wrote flash fiction in each of them. Flash fiction. It was spontaneous, not planned at all, but it takes time, more time than I expected. However, after Day One, I couldn’t stop; both for myself and for my readers. It was my first attempt at both flash fiction and AtoZ. My first time writing daily blog posts and daily storytelling.

Not the best idea I had.

So I’m extending the challenge posts throughout the month of May, rather than doing an info dump of alphabets on my readers.I hope you’ll come back and learn all the ways to Procrastinate a Writer. Maybe you’ll learn something. Maybe you’ll feel for Jayne and Tom, and who is that Newspaper Guy? Or maybe you’ll just leave hungry for cookies.

Be awesome, be the cupcake

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow; learn as if you were to live forever.”~Mahatma Gandhi, Indian leader

“Cute” was the theme of this past month. Cute as a cupcake. Just there were no cupcakes.

But there were Marshmallow Peeps. Those used to be a seasonal item, a once-a-year treat that filled every Easter basket. We ate it all, including the Easter grass stuck to the sides of each chick. Did you bike the head off first or the tail? Did you get a yellow chick or did a pink one sneak in? Once the season was over, they were gone, a kid’s idea of looking forward to next Easter. Now the Peeps brand is year round in a vast array of shapes and flavors. I have a special relationship with Peeps: I wrote an article on them that you can read here. My friends and family know that, and I am gifted with Peeps coloring books, T-shirts, stickers and, of course, candy. My husband went all out this year: Orange Crème and Sour Watermelon chicks; stuffed chicks in a box of Peeps; a lollipop of sorts of Chicks on a Stick; bubble wands; milk and dark chocolate-covered chicks; stuffed bunnies; chocolate and vanilla mini chicks; a teddy bear in a Peeps costume; a hollow milk chocolate chick; and more items sure to come. Easter isn’t until April 5th and the Peeps barrage on Day 13 was still 23 days before the holiday.

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Peeps are cute.

I am cute. I’ve been exercising on my WiiFit this winter, and my effort shows. I’m not vain, but between a bubblegum pink winter furry coat and “skinny” jeans, I feel cupcake cute.

That’s a good way to end. Here’s hoping you feel cute or dashing or whatever awesome you choose to be.

Remember December

“Work hard for what you want because it won’t come to you without a fight.”~Leah LaBelle, Canadian musician

It’s the middle of the month. Right about now, resolutions are falling faster than snowflakes.  Mine have been sidetracked by one nasty, lingering cold. Now is a good time to reflect on the past.

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I’ve been doing a December-Photo-a-Day project since 2007. Great memories. Every year it’s amazing what I do that’s new. It’s fun to see the events that have become traditions and how those same events have changed. My Deadwood Writers Group is one of those. We have a holiday party the first week in December, and I insist–dare I say “force”?–that we do a group photo. The size of the group has grown, yet some faces are the same since that first year. My husband and I always see It’s a Wonderful Life on the big screen at Penn Theater in Plymouth. My compositions of the photos are interesting to compare.

It reminds us, especially during the busiest of seasons, to stop and appreciate what’s around you. To remember.

That is different than my Photo 365, which has turned into a year-long adventure.  Here, as in other months, I was with friends, I played Yahtzee and wrote in coffee shops, I created art and I played with Zentangle.  Unique to this month was that I published my third book, visited family out of town and hugged a long-time college friend, discovered new used book stores, and had a tooth filled in the Fun Room at my dentist’s new office.  My husband cooked me breakfast, a Tweet of mine was favorited by a famous TV show actor.  I cheered the Nittany Lions and celebrated victory from Yankee Stadium section 409 when Penn State won the Pinstripe Bowl.

What do you remember from December?

Do you remember when…?

“Frustration, although quite painful at times, is a very positive and essential part of success.”~Bo Bennett, American businessman

I didn’t intend that quote to be reflective of this blogpost; it’s just serendipity.

Today is December 1. I’m reading social media posts about personal success (or failure) of NaNoWriMo. I did not participate because I had other writing obligations that were more important to me this year than cranking out 50,000 words, but I know I would have won. I’m stubborn like that. My perspective on NaNo is that if you have more written words on November 30 than you did on November 1, then you succeeded. In that sense, I succeeded because I wrote more words in my memoir and in my Day-Night story.

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Since it is December, a lot of people are looking to the end of the month for the end of the year. I’m jumping in here to be a persnickety trendsetter and reflect on the past now. I hate getting lost in the flux of it all.

The Photo365 app reminds me of the month that has passed. “Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?” November was exciting: hearing Alice Walker read her poetry in person; reading my current Michigan Scrapbooker Magazine article published as the centerfold; traveling to Illinois for the Penn State football game; wearing funky socks for funny feet; watching the new season of Major Crimes; and recalling family traditions.

I have become so dependent on my smartphone. The Timehop app accessed my past December 1s, and last year’s Photo365 calendar popped up.

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Even the Photo365 app has changed look

Last year, I participated in NanoWriMo and won. There’s a lot of NaNo in that month. Artwork and Zentangle. Games. Starbucks. Coffee. Thanksgiving stuffing once again. New restaurants. Random roses and holiday Peeps from my husband.

How awesome is that?!?

So many things that get lost in the shuffle, especially as we enter the Mega Holiday Month of December. Do you want to capture your memories? Just do this. Write a short journal entry. Scrapbook one 4″x6″ photo on an 8″x8″ page. Post a random conversation on Facebook. It’s as easy as that. Really.

Need some inspiration for a starting point? Check out the Fat Mum Slim blogsite for the Photo a Day challenge. There’s an app for that, and an active community on Instagram posting images.

I’m participating in the #fmsphotoaday challenge most days, having become more active on Instagram. “A natural social media site for you, a scrapbooker,” a friend commented. Come check out my Instagram images. I’ve almost reached 500 posts. Be there to witness the momentous event!

Consider the prompts as beginnings for a journal entry, a piece of art, or a Tweet. The idea is to be creative; how can you choose that creativity? Remember, if you save one more memory or create one more piece of art by December 31 than you did on December 1, you are a success.

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