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Calling All Questions

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:




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.


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.)                 


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Amy Etrheim

Also, I might not be able to make May 15 because I teach at a dance recital but I could definitely make Saturdays work in the future!

Amy Etrheim

I would love to participate in Playshops! I love the thought of it being play and not work, too. :) One question I have is, how would you recommend continuing to grow in our technique and craft in writing? I am a dancer and dance has really opened my eyes to the difference between the "magic" and the "technique" and how the two interact... at the end of the day, it's always about the magic, but day-to-day we can work on developing our craft and technique. This is easy to see with something as physical as dance, but I was curious, how do I continue to develop my technique and craft as a writer? I have some thoughts but would love additional input. Obviously writing, reading, attending workshops, etc., but sometimes I wish there were more objective skills practice/assessment or a way to see how one is progressing in their writing... or objective steps to work on or concepts to practice... I would love thoughts and advice in regards to this!... Thanks so much! Excited to be a part of this community!!!

Cathy Mayfield

Whoa! Totally agree with Natasha about the critiques! I also had one, just last week, that disturbed me and made me want to give up writing for this crazy world. It had to do with my unit studies for homeschooling. This person said I can't use any gender designated "differences." And when asking our daughter about it, she said I can't even discuss "ethnic" differences, to never use the word "ethnicity" in any form. The unit study deals with bullying, and this section talked about stereotypes ... even those seen in male-female. I understand to a degree, but isn't that what I'm trying to be against? Bullying of any form? How can I bring the issue to the children if I don't mention these things? It's so confusing! I literally haven't written a creative word since that happened last week. Now, I feel almost afraid to, thinking I may inadvertently offend someone when all I want to do is love them. I know this could open a huge discussion, so I guess don't answer about my specific trouble and stick with Natasha's question about utilizing critiques properly. (BTW, the other 8 people who critiqued the lesson missed that and loved it.)


Wait!! The secondary character question is currently my problem!!!!! I am finding that I tend to write very nebulous, vague main characters while my side characters pop and are crystal clear. If I missed any tips on how to deal with that I'd love it if someone recapped a lil for me (nervous laugh) and if not I would LOVE to see a post on that :)

I would also really love to talk about how to gauge advice from critique partners! I swapped with a cp, a writer that I really respect, a couple weeks ago and have since been so confused that I haven't been able to move forward in my manuscript. I need to be able to assess critiques more objectively and figure out how to get outside my messy messy brain.

I'm sorry that I had to miss this zoom session!!! I will definitely be planning on coming to the May 15 one <3


I enjoyed being at the workshop on Saturday. I'm completely for encouragement. I love encouraging each other.

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 and talking about that with someone or some people.

I appreciate all of you!

May 15th might not work. Two of the kiddos have orchestra auditions late morning.

Air hugs to you all,

Pam Halter

I'm with Cathy. I have sooooo many ideas in my head AND on my computer. I'm working on 2 specific manuscripts right now, but where do I go after that?

Of course, there's the "I should quit writing and just sew my quilts" thought that goes through my head quite often. This writing thing is an expensive hobby! I know making money is not the end goal, but dang. I'd like to, at least, break even. Is the fact I'm not even close to that a sign? No idea.

May 15th is Anna's 30th birthday! Can you believe it? I can't. The fact she functions at a low 18 months, and is small in stature, it can't be possible she's going to be 30. It's freaking me out a bit. I don't know what the plans are to "celebrate" yet. I can plan around our Zoom meeting. I loved seeing us and talking and encouraging and all we did!

And I'm totally on board for playshops!

Cathy Mayfield

First, the writing "playshops" sound fun! And Saturday afternoons are generally fine.

Now, a writing question that has nagged at me for ... well, forever!! How do I choose one project from a file of 300+ideas??!! For example, I told a young woman I work with that I would attempt to write a rough draft of a novel this year while she is working on hers. I pulled up freewrites and tons of prewriting on 5 novels I've worked on for over 10 years. How do I choose one?! There are reasons for each. And that doesn't count the other dozen or so I've also worked on to lesser degrees. Uhg! (Seriously, the answer might not matter because in the past two weeks of trying to decide, I've done a reality check and realized I cannot accomplish that anyway. I'd still enjoy hearing everyone's ideas, though! Blessings, all!

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