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March 2021

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.)                 


Congratulations, Andrea!

Celebrate Hey, Writerly Women! Will you join me in congratulating our own ANDREA CHATMAN? She has been offered a contract by Elk Lake Publishing for her novel Beneath the Deep. Elk Lake is a small but traditional royalty-paying house publishing books of a Christian nature. This is HUGE for Andrea, and I'm thrilled for her as I know you are. We'll celebrate Saturday.

Anytime you have a milestone in your writing journey -- be it, "I wrote 5,000 words this week," or "An agent wants to see my manuscript," or "I had a short story published," or "I got a contract!" -- I would love to share that here so we can all do the happy dance with you.

See you Saturday!  

  Andrea 2Blessings,

Nancy Rue 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Andrea Chatman, author of Beneath the Deep

 

 

 


Being Out With Lanterns: Part Four

Gloria at retreatHey, my Writerly Women. Can I just say what a great bunch of people you are? Two new members have joined us recently, and you have been all ABOUT welcoming them. If I weren't already a part of this group, I would want to be!

We're all going to have a chance to be together on Zoom this Saturday, March 20 at 2:00 p.m. Central Time. If you'd like to take part, please email me and I'll get an invitation out to you at once. You can do this as late as noon Saturday. If you HAVE let me know you want to hang with us but you haven't received an invite, let me know immediately. I don't want anyone who wants to join us to miss out.

In last week's post I mentioned a possible topic for Saturday -- in addition to checking in with everyone to see what you're up to and what you might be wrestling with in the writing life.

* How does having an image of your exploring self help you in your writing? What are some specific ways it can feed your work?

    * What can we do when that just isn't working? When we're just plain stuck?

    * How does this apply to getting published? Does anyone out there in a traditional pub house care whether we're writing from our essential selves? Is it possible to procure an agent or a publishing contract if we're not writing what's on trend?

 I'd love some feedback if that doesn't resonate with you and you want to talk about something else instead. I'll need to know that by Friday, either via comment here or in an email. Our community is always about YOU.

Speaking of YOU, I'd like to explore with you the fourth part of our "Being Out With Lanterns" series. If you haven't been able to play with the challenges you can still go back to our lanterns posts:

Part One. February 25. A reaction to Gloria's photo

Part Two. February 26. An image that says in a flash what it looks like when you are in search of yourself

Part Three. March 3. A phrase or sentence that describes who you are when you're engaged in the exploration of yourself, via your metaphor from Part Two 

Your challenge for Part Four will lead you into our Zoom session, though I hope you'll try this even if you can't be there Saturday. Below I've provided another photograph. Getting yourself into that marvelous person you are when you're honestly exploring yourself (the brave adventurer in the jungle, the remarkably free woman galloping down the beach on a stallion, etc.), write a paragraph. Here are the guidelines:

    1. Do this at a time when you're pretty sure you won't be interrupted.

    2. Don't overthink it. Just feel it as if you WERE that explorer, that overcomer -- because you ARE -- and write from there.

    3. Write in the form that you are most natural and free. For some that would a poem. For others, the start of a story. For still others something a little more straightforward.

    4. The first time through, don't stop to correct yourself. Pam's Little Engine That Could doesn't stop to edit herself.

Since this is a short piece, absolutely feel free to post it here as a comment. If you're still a little shy, you are welcome to email it to me. I think you know by now that you can trust this community to embrace whatever you put out there. You are, after all, Insanely Interesting Women.

Here's your photo:
Paige should
If you'd like to save yours to read to us on Saturday, we'd LOVE that. See you soon, my loves.

 

Blessings,

Nancy Rue

 


Zoom News!

ColleenColleen says she's "geeked out" about our upcoming Zoom session, and I have to say I feel the same. Thanks for speaking for us, fellow writerly woman.

I've scheduled the Zoom for:

Saturday, March 20, 2021

2:00 p.m. Central Time

An email has been sent out to the 13 people who have said, "I'm in!", so if you have let me know you want to join us but you don't receive that email, please, let me know. I don't want anyone who wants to be there to miss out because I made a mistake -- which has been known to happen a time or two. Or three. Or ad infinitum.

If you haven't told me you want to be part of this session, you still have plenty of time. You can even wait until that morning if you want. Either post a comment here or email me and I'll get an invitation out to you. We would love to have you.

Speaking of loving to have someone, Kelly is a new member of our community, and if you haven't read her comment introducing herself, you're going to want to do that. She is Insanely Interesting! Please make her welcome. She's joining us for the Zoom session, too, so you'll have a chance to get to know her a little better then.

As I'm thinking about this 90-minite-ish meeting, I'm pondering what topic or topics might be the most beneficial for us to explore. I've listed some suggestions below which relate to our recent Going Out With Lanterns series. Tell us what you think.

    * How does having an image of your exploring self help you in your writing? What are some specific ways it can feed your work?

    * What can we do when that just isn't working? When we're just plain stuck?

    * How does this apply to getting published? Does anyone out there in a traditional pub house care whether we're writing from our essential selves? Is it possible to procure an agent or a publishing contract if we're not writing what's on trend?

    If you have any additional ideas, please don't hesitate to let me know, either via email or in a comment. This is about YOU, and I need to know what's crying out from your souls. In addition to simply connecting and savoring each other, I long for you to come away from the session with something that will carry you forward in this sacred work you do. Little engine 2

I'll post tomorrow on our next step in Being Out With Lanterns, but let me just say now that your responses have been nothing short of magical. Even Pammy's Little Engine That Could!

Blessings,

Nancy Rue


Being Out With Lanterns: Part Three

Night-1156519_640Hey, Writerly Women,

    Do you not LOVE this image by Jose Antonio Alba? I think this young woman is one of us, going out with lanterns in search of herself, just as Natasha and Laureen are hacking through the jungle with a machete trying to get to the unreachable castle (keep hacking, Natasha; you'll get there) and just as Gloria continues to dive deeper and deeper into the ocean, below the creatures she's already familiar with. Your images of you looking for you have been nothing short of exquisite, and I hope those of you who haven't tried this yet will do so. If you have no clue what I'm talking about, just take a peek at the post entitled, "Being Out With Lanterns: Part Two."

    Your responses indicate that moving on will produce even more wonderfulness, so let's do that. But first, an announcement:

THE ZOOM SESSION SATURDAY,  MARCH 20 AT 2:00 P.M. CENTRAL TIME  IS A GO!!!

Many of you have emailed or posted that you're in, and I'll send each of you a Zoom invite this weekend. If you haven't let me know you'd like to be included, please do. Again, either post a comment or email me. More details to come!

Now, back to the searching.

Since you may be wondering what this has to do with our writing, let me explain before I extend this next challenge. I've been working on my latest novel for far longer than I have ever engaged with a project before. In the glory days of Christian fiction, I was known as something of a speed writer, so to linger and ponder and revise and step back comprises a relatively new approach for me. My process has changed. Solitude

At first I thought that was because I was luxuriating in the deliciousness of not having a deadline or a hovering editor I needed to please, and that was definitely part of my slowing down. But recently I've discovered that the main reason is that I'm learning more about myself in the writing of this book than I ever have in my almost 40 years as a published author. I've always discovered something, usually in retrospect. This time, however, I am keenly aware that shaping this story is all ABOUT swinging lanterns into corners of darkness.

This has now become intentional, and my writing has deepened as a result. Like Gloria I'm diving beneath the familiar fish. Like Colleen, I'm often going down that gold-studded tunnel with a flashlight. I'm like every one of you who has an image of this journey to the core of the soul.

This, I believe, is why we write. This is what makes for the most vivid and meaningful stories and non-fiction pieces. This is what breaks us out of trying to figure out what "they" want -- what's hot right now -- what has the best chance of getting us published.

The THIS I'm speaking of is that glimmer of yourself that you find while galloping mentally down the beach on a stallion like Andrea or mining for gold in a tunnel like Colleen. You see THIS, and it becomes your theme. You see THIS and it plumps out a character who before was flat. You find THIS and the story Pam post conferencetakes as many twists and turns as you've taken to get here. You hear THIS and your mind sings and your fingers tap out a rhythm on the keyboard that is yours and yours alone.

So here's your challenge -- because we learn our art best by doing.

   1. Spend some mental time with your image (or Emily Dickinson's lanterns).  Imagine yourself in that jungle, in those woods, under that ocean, riding down that beach. Do it in your mind or on paper.

    3. Who are you when you're engaged in that exploration? Is she someone you know? Or is she someone you want to be?

    4. In either case, she is you. Find one word or one phrase or one sentence that describes THAT you. Don't overthink it. Go with what immediately comes to you. Whether it appeals to you or not, capture it.

    5. Then share it with us. Be as succinct as you want to, because there will be another challenge at the end of the week. And trust me: This is all going somewhere. Somewhere good. Somewhere writerly.

In the meantime, let the process be Insanely Interesting. Just like you.    

Blessings,

                                                            Nancy Rue       


Zoom, Zoom, Zoom II

HairGood morning, Writerly Women. Recently I had to announce that the 2019 Young Women Writers Retreat at Glen Eyrie was the last one. I look at photos like this one and feel a bittersweetness in my soul. Such delicious times, so many splendid results. I know I've made the right choice for the future, but in the present, I simply want to be with you -- all of you - young and young-at-heart.

Many of you have expressed those same feelings, so let's do the next best thing. Let's schedule another Zoom session. In addition to potential newcomer Kelly, Hannah C., Lily, Abigail H., Chelsea, Pam, Margie, Jenny D., Pam, Andrea, Emii and Gloria have already said they're in, so it's a go. Are the rest of you up for joining us?

Here's the plan:

  1. Let me know if this date and time works for you: SATURDAY, MARCH 20, 2:00 P.M. CENTRAL TIME (noon Pacific, 1:00 mountain, 3:00 Eastern). You can post a comment here or email me. Feel free to give alternatives.
  2. 2. On March 8, I'll set up the Zoom (either at that time or one that seems to be better for the majority of you) and email the invitation to each of you who lets me know you want to participate. LAUREEN -- I don't seem to have your email address for some reason. DARLO, I might be missing yours too.

3. Meanwhile, I'll post choices for topics and give you an opportunity to suggest some as well. Once I've arrived at an agenda designed by you, I'll post that so you can mentally prepare. It's also okay to just show up and enjoy! 

Can I just say that there is much GEEKING OUT over this? It is going to be Insanely Interesting!  Orchard Houser

I' m also LOVING your responses to our last post -- Being Out With Lanterns: Part Two. Here's  the link in case you missed it. I'll be here with Part III on Wednesday, so if you haven't shared your image with us, there's still time. Of course, there is always time to respond to past challenges. We're nothing if not flexible here!

Blessings,

Nancy Rue