Jackasses & Monkeys – Inner demons of writing

I’m in Iowa City this week, sequestered at a bed & breakfast, doing a deep dive into writing my next novel. I write, I think, I walk, I write some more. All the while, I struggle with monkey brain. Monkey brain is the form my inner editor takes as it hoots and scratches and leaps around, yammering that the writing is No Good. Uninspired. Not Interesting.

I fight monkey brain all the time. Mostly by putting my head down, setting fingers on the keyboard, and reminding myself that it’s okay to just write. For today, just write one thing.

Today I received some unexpected help from author Kimberly Brock. For her, it’s not monkey brain. For her  the inner editors are jackasses. She wrote an inspired post on the topic of jackasses, posted on Writers In The Storm, and I share it for your enjoyment.

The Jackass in My Head: Barnyard Lessons From a Rustic Writer’s Retreat

by Kimberly Brock

A few weeks ago I was heading to Cashiers, North Carolina for what was heralded as the answer to my recent writer’s weariness. I’d been driving for several hours, twisting up winding roads where the earth falls away into deep gullies and the air grows thin and the mountain walls weep.

I was dizzy with anticipation, and probably the higher altitude. For months, I’d been waiting and worrying about this retreat. I’d been invited to attend as a speaker, and I’d become convinced I was secretly meant to be the comic relief. The other authors on the panel were big names with long, illustrious careers. I had no idea how I’d gotten so lucky to be included amongst them, but I was already sweating through my new jacket.

photo credit: Donkeys via photopin (license)

Upon arrival, I dumped my luggage in a pile in my room and texted the event coordinator to let her know I’d found the joint, mostly so I couldn’t back out of the whole thing and hit the road with some sort of excuse – got kidnapped, bubonic plague.

I’d been battling my inner running dialogue all day, the one that reminds me of all my shortcomings, all the bad decisions, the bad grammar, the bad breath.

Some writers call this voice the Inner Editor. I call it my Inner Jackass. In my mind’s eye, this voice looks a lot like the Hee Haw logo, sporting goofy teeth, ready to take a bite out of me any chance he gets.

Read on for the rest of Kimberly’s essay.

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Now I’m going back to my novel, encouraged to know I’m not alone with my monkey brain. We all have the inner editor – whether it takes the form of a jackass or a monkey. And sometimes they’re useful.

If you battle an inner demon on your writing, please share. And then go write something to put that jackass in its place.

A few of my favorite blogs – One Lovely Blog Award

When I began blogging in 2009, I posted my writing for a full year before telling anyone I was doing it. I was trying out my voice, learning the “rules” of blogging, and seeing if I would stick to it. one-lovely-blog-award_thumbFive years later, I’m still at it, my topics as eclectic as when I began.

Since I could not stick to one topic (one of the rules of successful blogging), I was surprised and honored when author Bernice L. Rocque nominated my blog for the One Lovely Blog Award this past week.

On her blog 3Houses, Bernice shares family history stories, recipes, seasonal crafts. Her topics are eclectic (no wonder I like her) and fun. I encourage you to take a look at Bernice’s blog.

As I reflected on all I’ve learned and the many friends I’ve made in the blogosphere, I thought this an appropriate time to recognize them and say thanks.

Here are the Rules for this Award

  • Thank the person who nominated you and link to that blog.
  • Share 7 things about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 bloggers you admire (or as many as you can think of!).
  • Contact your bloggers to let them know that you’ve tagged them for the One Lovely Blog Award.

Seven (7) Things About Me

  1. I played the accordion for many years as a child. If I strapped an accordion on now today, I expect I could still play “Lady of Spain” and “The Beer Barrel Polka.”
  2. At my son’s urging, I joined him for a day of sky-diving. The thirty seconds of free-falling was a close to flying like a bird as I’ll ever get.
  3. I grew up on a dairy farm and actually enjoyed milking cows. If I could find a B&B that included milking cows, I’d be there.
  4. I have a prairie patch in my front yard where I enjoy learning the lessons of life and the names of each of the native plants. Someday, I plan to study the medicinal uses of each of these plants.
  5. My publishing company Rising Sun Press is named for the small unincorporated village I live in. I would have called it Rising Sun Publishing, but that was already taken.
  6. Enjoying the moment is a skill I continually work on. I work hard to remember, “Just this.” “Just now.”
  7. Oct. 1 – An edit after posting – I frequently miss details, like there were supposed to be 7 things about me 😉 Or maybe this was another rule I broke.

Bloggers I Admire

My Blogger Friends
Many moons ago I vowed to pass on the endless stream of chain mail-like opportunities that come through on social media. It’s a personal decision. No offense intended to anyone who likes them, participates in them, or tags me. Yet here I am. Many thanks to Bernice L. Rocque for nominating me.

I thank each of you for the wisdom and enjoyment I’ve gained from reading your blog. You’ve enriched my life. Please know that I release you from any obligation to continue this award/chain.

My Reading Friends
I find each of the blogs I’ve listed to be well written, interesting, entertaining, and educational. Check them out. You may find them worth regular reading, too.

They did me wrong! Now what?

Someone cut you off in traffic. Cheated you out of a promotion. Stole your big idea. Or worse for us writers – Reviewed our books with words that stung. Then gave us a One Star rating. They’d have given us zero stars if Amazon let them. Ouch!

How do you respond when you’re wronged? Do you rage on Facebook and Twitter? Curse the wrong-doers? Nurture the hurt until it becomes a festering wound that damages everything you do for weeks and months after?

Or do you find a way to let it go?

Author Kathryn Craft shared great advice on Writers In The Storm for handling the inevitable negatives. I’m sharing her words that are written for authors but apply equally well to every person whose suffered injury at the hands of another. Plus there’s a great video. Don’t miss that.

Here’s the beginning of her post. Click to read more. It’s time well spent.

You Did Me Wrong—Right?

Kathryn Craft

Turning Whine into Gold

This month I’ve been seeing a lot on social media about the benefit of positivity. It is the simplest and most immediate cure for whining!

A positive attitude will keep you in problem-solving gear and
win you many champions in the publishing business.

In this great interview between Porter Anderson and my friend and NYT bestselling author Jonathan Maberry, Jonathan says, “more doors will open if you go into the business with happiness and joy and optimism.”

No truer words, my friends.

Negativity

As storytellers we get to play God. We can make good and bad things happen, and have it all come out the way we want it to in the end. But real life is less ordered. It requires us to deal with circumstances beyond our control. To surrender. Reframe. This skill set will help you leave despair behind and turn toward optimism and hope.

Dealing with it

Keep reading by clicking here.

How can writing short stories work for you? Six ways

What’s next for my writing? With my novel Go Away Home set to publish in July, I’ve been thinking more and more about where to turn my writing energy next. Short stories have come up with increasing frequency. As if to urge me along, Julie Glover offered “6 Reasons to Write a Short Story” over at Writers in the Storm.

If you’re already writing short stories, what has your experience been? What are the benefits? Have they been a gateway to longer works? Or are the shorter genres your destination?

If you’re a short story reader, I’d like to know what you look for in a short – what works and what doesn’t?

Here’s what Julie says:

6 Reasons to Write a Short Story

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My Sister's Demon, paranormal fiction by Julie Glover, @julie_glover

As a novel reader, I always believed I was meant to write full-length books. Yet I find myself entering the self-published market with a collection of short stories instead.

I wrote the first one on a lark—merely a story premise I wanted to get out of my system. But I liked the result so much, I started another. And then I got hooked, eventually completing six young adult paranormal shorts.

6 reasons you might consider writing a short story:

1. Writing short stories hones your skill for writing lean—a skill that will help you craft more effective scenes in a novel.

 Click to read the rest of Julie’s reasons.

And I’d love to hear your thoughts on short stories here. Comments?

How can you help an author? Here are 11 ideas

Ever wonder how you can help an author friend promote their new book? Chuck Sambuchino offered 11 great ideas in his blog today on Writers In The Storm. His ideas were so good and so easy, I’m re-blogging that post here. 

How to Support an Author’s New Book: 11 Ideas For You

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By Chuck Sambuchino

 

large_5595133805My Writer’s Digest coworker, Brian A. Klems, recently geared up for the release of his first book — a humorous guide for fathers called OH BOY, YOU’RE HAVING A GIRL: A DAD’S SURVIVAL GUIDE TO RAISING DAUGHTERS (Adams Media). On top of that, my coworker Robert Brewer (editor of Writer’s Market) recently got a publishing deal for a book of his poetry.

So I find myself as a cheerleader for my writing buddies — trying to do what I can to help as their 2013 release dates approach. I help in two ways: 1) I use my own experience of writing & publishing books to share advice on what they can expect and plan for; and 2) I simply do whatever little things I can that help in any way.

This last part brings up an important point: Anyone can support an author’s book release by doing different things to help the book sell and get noticed. 

To read more, click here.

Tips & Tools for cutting “Crutch” or “Echo” words

Recently, I blogged about finding and eliminating “crutch” words in my writing. Sharla Rae calls these “Echo” words. In her blog post today at Writers In The Storm, she lists the most common Echo words along with tips for finding and getting rid of them. She’s found a couple of useful websites for finding the problems in your own writing.  

Here’s the intro to her blog. Hop on over and read the rest.

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What is an “Echo?” Tips To Axe These Repeat Offenders

By Sharla Rae

One of the things we’ve discussed in our critique meetings is the tendency all writers have to repeat certain words and phrases. “Echoes” is a term I’ve heard applied to frequently repeated words.

Read your chapter out loud, and that’s exactly what they sound like.

Common Causes of Echoes:

  • Using lame and boring “to be” verbs. When used, they often produce not only echoes but also wordy constructions.
  • Many echoes are subject oriented. For example, let’s say that in one chapter a wagon plays a big part in the action. Echoing “wagon” may be your repeated offense. Subject oriented words are sneaky. At first, they seem absolutely necessary. A closer inspection proves otherwise.

Helpful Echo-Zapping Sites

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