Wednesday, November 29, 2017

In Which I Have a Birthday and Review the Year


- a post by Jeanna Mason Stay

Next week is my birthday. I’ll be 37, which is exciting if you like prime numbers but less fun if you prefer to have lots of factors in your age (like 36, which is fantastic—1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 12, 18, 36!). If you multiple 37 by 3, however, you do get a cool number (111), so it’s not all bad. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to be geeky about numbers, which is always a bonus.

Anyway, I think it’s about time for an early midlife crisis, but I just don’t know what direction to take that (except, of course, rearranging all the furniture in my house and trying to toss half of my belongings, but since that happens regularly, it doesn’t really count).

When I think about my age and writing, though, I can’t help but think of many/most of my favorite authors. Shannon Hale and Brandon Sanderson are both only a few years older than me. They’ve been publishing waaaaaay longer than I have (since, technically, I still haven’t!). Kate DiCamillo published Because of Winn Dixie when she was 36ish. We won’t go on and on, because that would be depressing. I guess the point is that it sure doesn’t feel like I’m doing much with my writing career.

At the same time, I’m quite aware that their career paths are just not for me. But then I think, “Maybe it’s because I’m just not a hard enough worker” (totally true), “Maybe I’m not talented” (hopefully not true), blah blah blah. I dither a lot. In the end, pretty much the only reasonable conclusion on this topic is Comparison = Bad.

So instead of comparisons, it seems like a good idea to think about the things I have done this year with writing.

I’ve written a bunch of short stories and flash fiction, two of which are going into anthologies relatively soon. I’ve participated in a flash fiction competition, which has been delightfully fun so far. I won the Mormon Lit Blitz this year. (Yay!) I won a Beginning of Book contest. I was given a great opportunity that is still terrifying the pants off me (and I am therefore stalling!)

I tried writing several stories that I wasn’t good enough to write yet. One of them turned out well. Some turned out okay anyway, though not amazing. One of them crashed and is still burning. I’m planning on pulling out the fire extinguisher and trying again. In trying things I wasn’t ready for, I got (hopefully) just a teensy bit better.

I started out the year with a goal of writing every single day. That goal also crashed and burned around August, but that was still pretty good for me. I went farther on that than I had previously, and I still write many days, though not even close to all.

I taught a writing class to a group of awesome teens, and as part of that, I put together an anthology of their awesome writing. It was an insane amount of work, but it turned out so fun, and I’m so glad I did it. I learned a lot about how anthologies work, how hard it is to put things in an order that makes sense and flows, and a lot of mishmash of stuff that I may never need to know again.

I discovered how much I love short fiction. I’m learning how it gives me most of the joy of writing, which is a big part of why I write in the first place. But it comes with far fewer of the bouts of angst, suffering, agony, and self-doubt that novel-writing has done in the past. So I’ve not given up on novels, but I am definitely loving the change of pace.

And none of this even touches on the sheer awesomeness that is each of my kids, which is a whole different topic.

Looking back, I’m really happy about writing this year, even though it still isn’t what I had planned on. I won some, lost some, grew and changed a lot. Another time I’ll start thinking about goals for the coming year, but for now, I think I’ll just relish where I’ve been. I’ll never catch up to my author crushes, but I think maybe I’ll find a place where I’m happy being me.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

All God's Children

by Jewel Leann Williams

(note: this comes from a post I made on Facebook some months ago, and for some reason I came across it tonight and felt prompted to share it here)

So many different ways on Facebook (and everywhere else) that people are posting things or commenting in ways that are breaking my heart. So many horrible things said about "those people"---all different sorts of "thoses" and so many sweeping generalizations, falsehoods, fearmongering, dehumanizing.... 

People. We are all, on this Earth, brothers and sisters. No race, religion, gender, class, or political group can be judged by the bad actions of a relative few. Even of they could, it's not the point. We were commanded by the Lord to "love thy neighbor as thyself" and when he said that, there was no fine print with exceptions to that commandment. 

You can't denigrate a whole race, or religion, or any group of people either by holding up their worst as an example of them all, by taking things out of context, by spreading rumors, by going on websites full of hate to find "facts" and then say you love your neighbor. You can't spread discord and contention and think you are right with God, OK with the Savior. 

Those people you insult, are children of God. Literally. Imagine how you feel when someone has insulted your child. If you, being imperfect, love your child so much that your heart aches for them, imagine how much more pain YOUR GOD feels when you behave as if one, or some, or many, of HIS children, are trash or devils or whatever terrible label you want to use. 

The great deceiver, Satan, would have us live in fear of each other, in misunderstanding, in hate. He laughs at us when we believe him, that we have to build MORE walls around our countries, our communities, our hearts. He is a liar.

Our Savior said things like love, pray for, do good to, those we call enemy. He said things like if ye are not one ye are not mine. Like turn the other cheek.  

What I say won't convince anyone to "Stop it," but I had to say it anyway.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Because When It Gets To Be Too Much, You Disappear

Hello, my awesome MMWs! I have missed you so, and I apologize for my abrupt absence. I have no good explanations for it, except that one day I didn't get around to writing my Monday post, and then it happened again, and then again, until it was just easier to keep "forgetting" than to come back and post.

But now I'm back, because Things are happening with my writing!

Thing 1: I made an author page on Facebook. I decided it was finally time. Come see me-

Thing 2: I'm NaNoEdMo-ing my LDS romantic comedy novel based on the four- yes FOUR- critiques I got back from critique partners. They are amazing and it was a big boost to my confidence that they all FINISHED the book and seemed to enjoy it! I'm feeling thisclose to getting this novel ready for submissions, and as soon as I do submit it, I have several other projects just waiting for my attention, so I'm eager to get going on those as well.

Thing 3: I'm trying to put myself "out there" more. This past week I gave a presentation at my kids' middle school about what it's like to be a writer, and I also attended the Festival of the Written Word, a fantastic event put on by my local library, where I attended 3 panel discussions and was reminded of how much fun it is to be among my tribe. Side note: did you know that 90% of published authors are finding their agents through networking these days? Only 10% through cold queries. If that doesn't encourage you to put yourself out there in the writing community, I don't know what will!

Another reason I'm back posting here once again is because I was helping a writing friend with an issue she was having with character development and the first resource I turned to was Mormon Mommy Writers, because I remembered we'd had some fantastic posts on the subject. I started searching through the posts and I realized we have a TON of fantastic posts on all aspects of writing, and I remembered what an honor it is to be associated with this blog, and I was ashamed of myself for letting my participation in it lapse.

So again, please forgive me my neglect, and I look forward to jumping back in with both feet and sharing this journey with you once again!

Now, it's time to catch up- what's going on with YOUR writing these days? NaNoWriMo? NaNoEdMo? NoNaNo? Give me the scoop, I'm dying to know!


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