We Are Connected!

Pam and katieHey, Writerly Women. It has been so gratifying to receive your emails and comments saying that you both understand the winding down of our blog AND that you are all about staying in touch, looking at past posts, et cetera. 

We HAVE become a community here, and there is no reason for that to stop. The market most of you are writing for is small, so the chances of running into each other at conferences and so forth are high. PAM and KATIE met in person recently at Realm Makers.

Scotia and Sara

 

 

 

 

 

SCOTIA and SARAH found each other at one of Scotia's Heartwork retreats. 

So keep your eyes open and your emails coming. I've already scheduled Zoom sessions with NATASHA, SCOTIA, LESLIE and LILY. Reach out to nnrue@att.net and I'll set one up for you too.

Blessings,

Nancy Rue


Andrea is right!

Andrea 2Hey, again, Writerly Women. Our Andrea had a great suggestion. She asked if the blog could stay live so that she -- and all of you -- can have access to previous posts. That will absolutely happen! In fact, because I have a full year left with Typepad, I'll keep it open until the end of July 2022.

And let's take that one step further. Since so many of you have mentioned that you've treasured the sense of community here, please avail yourselves of the opportunity to chat with each other via comments. I'll check in from time to time and who knows, if something seems to be a theme I might do the occasional post. 

In fact  ... if in the next year any of you want to write a post and email it to me, I'll put it up here. Why not take advantage of the opportunity to showcase your work or share what you're learning?

And by ALL means, if you experience a milestone, no matter how small, EMAIL ME and I will share that news with the group. We're talking you finished a draft -- you had some interest at a conference -- an agent has asked to see your full manuscript -- or you've scrapped a project because the perfect one has come to you and you're on a roll.

I guess what I'm saying is that the forum remains. I hope you'll use it if it resonates with you.

All because Andrea spoke up. If any of you have ideas for what might happen here in this year of transition, do NOT hesitate to email me. I am all about it. 

Blessings,

Nancy Rue


All Good Things ...

Me with GibbsHello my fellow Writerly Women. Y'know, I've never liked the old adage, "All good things must come to an end," because I don't believe it's true. The really good things are everlasting -- like God and deep knowing and love itself.

I'd much rather say, "Some good things can be better with change." Like that incredible bottle of wine Jim and I shared last week on my birthday. It always tastes better when the server pours it - and, of course, when it has aged. Or like a great story idea that becomes more beautiful as you cultivate it. Or like women who age well -- keeping their wrinkles and white hair while they grow in wisdom. They are my inspiration.

This blog is one of those good things. My intention has been to nurture community. To encourage. To seek inspiration together so that our writing, too, can get better with change. I've come to realize that it's time for me to allow that intention to be fulfilled in a different way.

As you can see from the picture, my life has slowed WAY down, in ways that are quietly enriching. I'm embracing that and seeing the direction this season's path is taking me. Toward deeper, richer writing. Quiet afternoons. Lingering in relationships. Meditation and practice and study and rest. In watching this new lifestyle unfold, I've come to know that it's time for our blog to end and a different approach to staying in touch to begin.

I'm sure this is no surprise to you. I've not posted regularly or followed through on quarterly Zoom meetings. I hope I haven't let you down, though I know all of you are busy in your various seasons too. In order to finish well, I'd like to propose the following:

    * We have a week to say whatever we want to say before the Doorways close. Do post a comment between now and Monday, August 9, will you?

    * You feel free to email me to set up individual Skypes, Zooms or phone calls which I've been doing on the regular with several of you. If some of you want to do small group Zooms, that can work too.

    *   You email me anytime with questions or just to touch bases.

    * If one of you wants to set up your own blog with this same intention, I'm happy to help you do that. That could even be a two or three person endeavor.

The only factor that has made this decision difficult is the fear of losing touch with a single one of you. I don't want that to happen. I want to be able to continue to support you as women and as writers. It's just going to look a little different.

Please chime in. Please email me. Please tell me what you need. And please know that this good thing will change for the better.

Blessings,

Nancy Rue     


Back From the Deep

Lily's diamante 4Hello, my insanely beautiful Writerly Women. I hope you haven't felt that I've completely abandoned you and our community. Without going into a lot of detail that nobody needs to hear (!), I WAS abandoning mySELF, and I needed to take some time to go into the deep and see what's really in that place I've never wanted to visit. Turns out, I actually want to LIVE there - in the most authentic identity I've experienced in my almost 70 years.   I would have let you know I'd be gone for a while, but I actually didn't know that myself at the time. It is good to be back with you, and if you're still here, I hope it feels good to you too.

The last time we talked -- April 16-- oh, my gosh! two months ago! -- I challenged you to a diamante poem. (Here's the link in case this isn't ringing any bells). The 'assignment' was designed to help you come back to your passion for your project, and you absolutely rose to the occasion. You were to start with your current state of doubt or despair or frustration and move toward a state of trust, confidence or at least into the give-it-another-go zone. Let's take a look at some of the results:

   PAM

  UNIQUE IDEA

FUN      ENGAGING

                                                                     INSPIRING        LIFE-CHANGING BOOK   ENCOURAGEMENT

                                                                                                            DARK                SORROW                   DOUBTING

                                                                                                                         REACHING           PEERING

                                                                                                                             UNREALIZED  SILENT

                                                                                                                                            BLANKNESS 

 

EMMI

Inadequacy

Missing Ugly

Faking  Hollowing  Lacking

Rejection  Shame Space Seed

Being  Stabilizing  Seeing

Complete Enough

Wholeness

  

KATE P.

Creation

Full Glorious

Flowing Waxing Rejoicing

Daydream Fantasy Nightmare Actuality

Pressing  Dragging  Boring

Empty Blank

Nothing.

 

 

LILY, our artist in residence, put hers on canvas as you can see above. Here is a full representation of her original passion for her Who Dee Yeh stories. Lily's diamante 3 We can see a great deal from the way we approach our funky places. Pam and Kate started with the magic that took them into their stories in the first place and traced the path into near paralysis. Yeah, when we go to writers' conferences and come back discouraged or send out our work with such hope and experience rejection and disappointment, that's the slippery slope we slide down. EMII began with the funkiness she was feeling and made her way back to the wholeness. If we flip them, as LILY did, we can see both approaches -- and discover that the only way back to the passion and the inspiration and the straight up fun of creating is to confront that doubt -- name it -- put a face on it -- and then take it down so we can rediscover what is always there.

The jewel that is the idea.

The glimmer of hope.

The sparkle of your own voice.

The courage to say what you know to be true.

The energy that only God as you understand God can release in your soul.

EVERY creative person -- EVERY writer -- EVERY maker of any kind has to repeat this process again and again. It is not one and done. My own recent soul-finding expedition has etched that into my experience.

 

Aging

Late     Done

Regretting  Sagging   Shriveling

Doubt   Resignation    Growth  Wisdom

Regrouping    Seasoning   Knowing

Vintage    Patina

Arrival

 

So how does that help us right now, as writers, in a practical sense? I've shared this with you before, but I think it bears repeating. There are three steps in making any difficult decision, including the creative ones. I'll walk you through it. This arises, by the way, from the intensive year-long yoga program I'm taking. Yoga lady

First, what is the choice you're faced with? Do you continue with your current project or scrap it and start over with something different? Keep writing or give the whole thing up completely? Make the revisions suggested by an editor, agent or writing critique group, or send it out again as is? Stay with the Christian publishing world or venture out into the general market? The variety of decisions we have before us is practically endless, but just choose the one you most need to look at right now. Got that? Now, the steps:

For the sake of example, my most recent decision was whether to stop writing or restructure my novel for a fourth draft. 

STEP ONE: What do you know about the situation you're in? Not the what if's or the things you think you know (but actually don't.) Simply, what are the facts?

    For me, those were: The novel wasn't going to work the way it was; it was unwieldy and unfocused and WAY too long. My vast experience told me it was unpublishable. Besides, I wasn't writing what I really wanted to say. And I am almost 70. At the same time, I have written and traditionally published 125 books. I have the skills. I am of sound mind and body. And I know a great deal more about life than I have ever known.

    Can you see how that sticks strictly to what I knew to be true? The doubts and worries did not appear on that list.

    Give it a go before you move to Step 2.

STEP TWO: What is yours to do? Do NOT consider what the results might be or how other people are going to feel or what they'll think. Forget the market, the trends, the chances you'll be published. Only consider what is in your skill set, your current status and your soul. This takes prayer. It requires listening and accepting. If you find yourself wrestling with it, take a break and then come back and start over. Remember, no pros and cons. No trying to predict results.

    That looked like this in my case. I am a writer and have been for forty years.  It has been my life's work to create stories that may move people closer to discovering their true identity, the essential self. That has occurred in my readers. Now that I have experienced deeply how that self-discovery actually happens, it is mine to write this story, this novel, that explores that purpose in a new way, a deeper way. It is mine to be both professional and unabashedly creative. That is all.

    As you look at what your time of reflection reveals to you, ask yourself a sub-question. What is my motivation for determining that this is mine to do? Am I choosing this so I'll impress someone -- feel okay about myself -- not be a quitter -- please everybody -- make more money. That means examining your values.  Be honest with yourself about your values. YOUR values. Let your motivation arise from there.

STEP THREE: What is my state? Once you've made your decision, before you act on it, check in with your  system. You've been doing a lot of thinking. Now FEEL. Is your body stable, or are you nauseous or sleepless or headachey? What's going on in your mind? Is it calm and sure? Or is it still like a hamster wheel in there? How about emotionally? Do you have a sense of well being? Or are we talking anxiety or a bummed-out sensation? There's a difference between the natural nervousness that comes with taking a big step or having to disappoint someone in order to do what is yours to do -- and that full-blown this-is-not-RIGHT physical reaction. Even if you have concerns, there is a peace at the center of yourself when you've made the best choice for yourself. If you don't have that peace, examine your motivation again.

    In my case, once I let go of regret that I didn't figure out sooner that I needed to regroup and restructure, I did feel grounded and centered. I find myself eager to get to my desk every morning and once again I'm thinking about the story and talking to the characters when I'm driving or taking a walk or doing the dishes -- without bumping into all the walls.  I'm journaling with my protagonist. I'm creating an imagery notebook. I've booked a trip to Concord in September where I'll go my final edit. That is mine to do.  I know because it feels authentic. At last.

That's a whole bunch to take in, but will you give it a shot? You can even just start by telling us what  decision you're faced with. Get it down to its element and then share, will you? I will be here. I hope you will be too.

 

Blessings,

Nancy Rue         

 

 

 


Between You and Your Writing Passion

Margie's audienceHey, Writerly Women. I so appreciate your patience with my absence these last two weeks. A family illness in California kept us away longer than we planned and has necessitated some rebalancing on our return. I'm so grateful for your comments and prayers, and I love being back with you. Hopefully you've been thinking about your driving passion -- what it once was -- whether you can recover it. You can always chime in on that topic, as PAM, CATHY and EMII have done.

We're going to reflect today on what has inserted itself between you and your original passion for your project, and hopefully we can do it in a creative way. That's what my ten-year-old granddaughter Maeryn and I did this week. It totally worked for us. Maybe it will for you?

The photo you see at the left is one our MARGIE (who has let me know she'll be away from the blog for a short time because she is totally immersed in the four-week Book Launch Blueprint course, part of her own reviving of her passion) sent me when I had her do a  profile on her ideal reader. This is the diamante poem Mae and I composed for it:

   

Knowledge

Actual   Deep

Absorbing  Learning  Understanding

Solitude  Focus  …   Lecture  Instructions

Straining   Yawning   Losing

Useless   Pointless

Classroom

 

Mae writing 2

If you've never composed a diamante it's really quite delightful. The form is --

Noun

2 adjectives to describe that noun

3 gerunds (-ing verbs used as nouns) to describe that noun

2 nouns that relate to that noun and 2 that relate to its opposite

3 gerunds to describe its opposite

2 adjectives to describe its opposite

Opposite noun

 

The trick is to establish the two opposites first (line 1 and line 7) and work from there.

We were dealing with the loss of enthusiasm for learning, for knowledge, and in the writing of the poem we discovered that it is fed by deeply absorbing yourself in pursuing what fascinates you, and it is basically suffocated in the typical classroom. (It was my subversive way of reminding her how lucky she is to be studying with me in my studio!  :) )

Mae writing 1

What if you looked at your original passion for this writing you were doing with such fire and revealed what snuffed it out -- through a diamante poem? Here's mine:

Ardor

Fervent   Bright

Dreaming   Shaping   Allowing

Depth   Wholeness  …  Criticism  Expectation

Revising   Cutting   Comparing

Strained   Stiff

Doubt 

It's so clear to me that right where that ellipse is (...), I allowed an unexpected (though correct) criticism to take me down into a stilted kind of writing fueled by doubt. It's like the perfect picture of exactly what happened. Will you give this a shot?

Once you've done that, turn it upside down and see what happens:

Doubt

Strained   Stiff

Revising   Cutting   Comparing

Criticism   Judgment  ...  Depth   Wholeness

Dreaming   Shaping   Allowing

Fervent   Bright

Ardor

 

Now I can face that doubt. I can see it for what it is. I can recognize the damage it's done to my writing. And at the ellipse I can return to what has always brought me such joy and satisfaction -- and personal success -- in my writing. 

Will you do this part too? Turn it upside down? Rearrange it so that it provides you with the start of a plan to revive? You are marvelous wordsmiths, my insanely interesting women. You can so do this! Sarah at Glen

So, to summarize:

    * Consider the original passion for your writing. Find the noun that names it. (line 1)

    * Write down its opposite as a noun (line 7)

    * Create your diamante, following the seven-line form above

    *  Ponder what that tells you

    * Now turn it upside down

    * Ponder what THAT tells you

Share with us -- PLEASE! Next week we'll take it from there. Can't wait!

 

Blessings,

Nancy

 

 

 


Back to the Driving Passion

Amy1best Hey, Writerly Women. This lovely lady is the newest addition to our community -- Amy Etrheim. Like all of you she is Insanely Interesting. She has spent significant time in South America, speaks fluent Spanish, has worked as a medical interpreter and is a marvelous dancer. That's just some of the stuff that makes her fascinating. I know you'll make her welcome.

Amy is also a former Doorways client of mine, and in a recent email she reminded me of something I apparently said to her when we were working together. (I actually do remember it, Amy, because it was so true!) Here's what she wrote:

"Although at the time of our talks I was pretty young and scattered, I am pretty excited to feel a little more ready to start taking my writing journey seriously. I'm sure I will still have scattered moments to come, but one thing I will never forget is how when I sent you my rough emotional life processings, you told me it was uncanny that my thoughts came out as nearly polished poetry."

In one such poem, Amy addressed something so many of you have talked of in your questions for our future posts (which have been amazing, by the way):

 

I don’t want to write

I don’t want to write.

Because my heart is

being ripped apart

                                                                                    inside of me

                                                                                and I don’t want to

                                                                                    think about it.

                                                                                         I don’t want to write

                                                                                             because it causes me to see

                                                                                                 the condition of my heart

                                                                                                  and sometimes that’s ugly

                                                                                                 I don’t want to write

                                                                                                  because I’m in the middle

                                                                                                 of a fight

                                                                                                   with God.

We want to write -- but we don't -- and we can't -- and then we let too much time go by -- and then we miss it and we ache and we feel wretched. Am I right? 

LILY voiced that very thing to me. "Life has been so scattered, discouraging, sad, crazy. I've been discombobulated." In her comment she said,  "I've been on the same journey as those who have wondered whether quitting would be the better or wiser choice. Going without working on either of my manuscripts for 6-10 months (?) and not feeling the courage, inspiration, confidence to write was very discouraging. So, I'm cheering everyone who's been there or is there, with a resounding, 'You've got this.' Sometimes, going back to the driving passion helps."

 

Going back to the driving passion. I. Love. That. I mean, don't you?Lily 2020

We may have talked about this before, but I think it bears repeating in this context. Perhaps if we could each get back to our driving passion we will once again, want to write. Perhaps then the ugly conditions of our hearts and our fights with God and our general discombobulation and discouragement won't keep us from our stories and our poems and our articles and our everything that is writing.

Your questions have been deep and thought-provoking, and we are going to cover all of them. I think, though, that this one is foundational for all the rest. Are you up for a challenge?

  1. Look at that project you're struggling with or have shelved and are putting off getting back to. Don't read it critically or do any editing or think about the feedback you've gotten that has been confusing and demoralizing (another topic we'll be addressing)
  2. Instead, let it remind you of the passion that drove you to begin it. Not the way you got the idea. Not the character who kept nagging you until you did something with her. Not the suggestion from someone else that you should really write a book about that. The Passion. The Driving Passion that sent you to the notebook or the keyboard or the cocktail napkin. Write it in a strong, pithy sentence or paragraph.
  3. Then write about it some more. Write until you feel your blood running warm in your veins. Until you're gnawing on that thumbnail you always find yourself nibbling when you're on a roll. Until you get the fire in your belly or the bounce in your body or the zing in your thoughts that made you start your project in the first place. Don't just think it. Feel it.
  4.  Then share that with us. Not the whole thing, obviously, but the core of it. Do it in prose or poetry. Do it in whatever form you want, but do let us see it. We can encourage each other by filling the comment board with passion.

 Don't consider yet what you're going to do with that. We'll go there when I return the week of April 7. I have to go out of town on a family matter, so this gives you plenty of time to sink into this. Passion will be waiting for you there.

One more thing. If you can't find that passion, not to worry. Tell us that too.

Meanwhile, have a great week. This is Holy Week, a season that anticipates the Great Passion. What better time?

 

Blessings,

Nancy Rue         

 


Calling All Questions

Question marks 2Hey, Writerly Women. I'm love, love, loving the questions you're asking in response to Monday's post. They're not only providing information I need to shape future posts and series -- they're allowing you to breathe a sigh of deep relief and say, "OH, my gosh, I'm not the only one who feels this way."

So far we have ( in addition to those posed in the Zoom session Saturday) :

  • Should I keep writing even with no visible publishing possibilities on the horizon?
  • How do I get my passion back -- that feeling I had when I started my project(s)?
  • I have SO many ideas. How do I decide which one to focus on?

Will you add your own to the list? A pattern is already forming in my mind as I look at these, and I'd like to have even more of your issues in front of me as I design what's ahead.

  • I'll put mine out there: How can I deal better with interruptions so I can sustain my attention in blocks of creative space?

Remember:

    * There are no stupid questions

    * There are no too-small questions

    *There are no questions only you struggle with

Ask away!

Blessings,

Nancy Rue


Zooming In

Mini cooperHey, Writerly Women! This picture of me in my husband's brand new Mini-Cooper has nothing whatsoever to do with what I'm about to write about, but this little sucker does ZOOM, so maybe there's a connection. His name, by the way, is Max. Mad Max.

Zooming IS the topic, and I just want to say how inspiring and fun and warm it was to be with those of you who joined in on Saturday afternoon. Laureen, Addison, Kates B. and P, Gloria, Andrea, Jenny, Abigails G. and H., Pam, Chelsea, Kelly, Margie and I all came together and in addition to encouraging each other we came up with some ideas for encouraging ALL of us here in the blog community. More on that below.

It was, in short, Insanely Interesting.

Those ninety minutes went so well, we decided it had to happen again, and I have already set a date:

Our next Zoom session will be Saturday, May 15.

If Saturdays just aren't good for you, will you please let me know via comment or email? I want to make sure we can include as many of you who want to be with us as possible.

In the course of our conversation, the group came up with a number of words and topics they'd like for us to explore here on Doorways. Those include, in relation to writing:

Courage

Confidence

Patience

If you have one (or more) you'd like to add to that list, do let me know, again via comment or email. If it's something you wrestle with, it's something someone else struggles with as well.

Several questions also arose:

Is what I'm writing really worth the effort?

How do I write an ending that fulfills those questions posed at the beginning and provides a good payoff?

How do I muck out the muddled middle of my story?

Do you plan the whole story out before you start writing or just go for it?

What do I do when my secondary characters are more interesting than my protagonist?

How do I write chapter endings that hook the reader into continuing?

I will absolutely design some post series around those great questions and provide the "little exercises" as someone called them that the group agreed they like doing. IMG_9720

But that also confirmed that something I've been toying with would be worth trying. I'm thinking of offering some 90-minute Zoom Playshops (as opposed to workshops), each of which would involve some instruction, a guided exercise to do right there while we're in session and an opportunity to share what you create. I'd have to charge for these -- probably $25 per person -- since this involves preparation. Anyone who would like a personal follow-up critique of 500 words of their work would pay an extra $15. This would probably happen once a month, beginning in June. Again, will you chime in and let me know if that is something you're interested in? 

Perhaps the most important thing that came out of our time together was the agreement that this community is about encouragement. About sharing our frustrations and disappointments and fears as well as our milestones, no matter what shape those take. Those attending said they are reminded of their own worth when they come here, and I am all ABOUT that. If there is any way I can do more to make that a reality for you, I want to know. My inbox is always open to you. 

Finally, we did some dreaming together -- about writing what we REALLY want to write in a place where we could completely focus and surround ourselves with inspiration. We were talking everything from The Great Barrier Reef to Northern Ireland (before we were done, we were all meeting on the Emerald Isle!). From the mountains of Colorado to the Jersey Shore. From Concord, Massachusetts, to a place where fairies dwell. The upshot of that was three-fold:

            * Why CAN'T we write whatever we want to write? We sort of got into Abigail H's face about that (sorry, Abby!) but she was our symbol for why NOT? It was refreshing to hear that most people, if given the chance to write whatever they wanted, would write what they're working on now.

        * The problem with doing that is interruption. It can be so difficult to sustain attention to the project when the rest of life is screaming at us, shaking us and yanking us out from in front of the computer. That's a bit of an exaggeration, but I'm a fiction writer, so, y'know. That is the reason we're so drawn to going away to some secluded place where we know no one. Yeah, Ireland sounds magical and Australia would be so freeing, but it's the uninterrupted blocks of time we're truly longing for.

        * So in the tradition of Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way (a twelve-step program for recovering creativity), we can dip into that dream in small ways. If your dream is to go to Rome for three months and work on your romance novel you CAN carve out two or three blocks of time a week and make yourself an espresso and turn on Il Volo and put a sign on your door (preferably in Italian) that says, "Unless you are bleeding, there's a bone sticking out or you are running a fever of over 102, don't even think about disturbing me." Find those pieces of Greece or the Rockies or a Scottish island and bring them into your writing space. Put on your headphones and fulfill your dream.

If you want to share a comment -- and I hope you do -- tell us anything you want related to this post.

        * Whether Saturday afternoons work for you

        *  A word you want us to explore

        * A writing question that won't leave you alone

        *  Your interest in Zoom Playshops

        *  A way this community can be more of one

        * Your dream and how you could get a mini-taste of it (Ha! I knew we'd get that picture of the mini to fit!)

Any or all or just one -- we'd love to have your input.

Blessings,

Nancy Rue   (P.S. Because of you I've started a cash envelope for my editing trip to Concord and I plugged in and wrote for 3 and a half hours this morning. Yeah. We need each other.)