Monday, July 29, 2013

Writing, Devotion, and Your Monday Fortune Cookie, 7/29/13


SNARKY RESPONSE:  But we make no promises about tomorrow.

Devotion is worth the effort at this time.

Actually, I feel that devotion is always worth the effort. Granted I may not always receive gratitude for my devotion, but if my intent were only to receive gratitude then it calls into question the validity of my devotion.

Now there are some noble pursuits that are with the sole expectation of recognition. I'm thinking specifically of competitive sports. In my mind, athletes and competitors are always cognisant of the ratio of effort to results, so I think they are outside the scope of my discussion.

Additionally, devotion to family and faith are excluded from the discussion, though my initial comment can be applied to those folks who expect others to reward them for their actions. As Dolly Parton's character said in "Straight Talk", those folks should "get down off the cross. Somebody needs the wood."

No, seriously, today's fortune cookie resonated with me and where I am right now with my writing. I'm well into my edits, to the point that I'm beginning to get a little green around the gills at the thought of reading through my current WIP One More Time. However, that one more time is crucial to getting the words right. In fact, I fully expect that even after I slog my way through this edit, I'll have to push myself through another. It's an effort, hell yeah, and I have been known to periodically whine about it, but it's an effort that I know will improve my work.

A WIP is an evolving creature. First Draft to Finished Product may see characters, story arc, pivotal points, etc. shift is unexpected ways. Those changes will require adjustments to the story in large and small ways. I have to be prepared to backtrack, backfill, and maybe even back down on my story as I become more and more involved with it.

I'm determined to do this work, to make these adjustments, and then go through it all again because I'm devoted to the concept of putting my best work forward to anyone who plunks down the money and the time to read my writing. Or even if no one does, because it's what I do.

I'm a writer and I write. Then I edit and edit and edit until it's right. And there's no skipping steps along the way. Therefore, my devotion to my writing is ALWAYS worth the effort.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Memories, Good Times, and Your Monday Fortune Cookie 7/22/13

It takes more than a good memory to have good memories.

SNARKY RESPONSE: Too much wine doesn't help either. Then again, it might.

It takes more than a good memory to have good memories.

I've just shared two marvelous weekends with two wonderful writing groups at The Porches in Norwood, VA. As expected, we all dedicated ourselves to writing, editing, and revising our current Works In Progress. Sitting in our rooms or on the famous porches, we typed, scribbled, and pondered. Chapters were written, sections were chopped, and ideas were explored. The glorious quiet was filled with insect and birdsong, the tranquil scenery offered respite when screens grew fuzzy, plots twisted into knots, or ideas seemed to slow. The sense of a shared mission helped keep us all focused and creative. However, writers cannot live on ideas alone. Oh No! All that creativity deserves to be richly rewarded and there was no shortage of delectable rewards to be had.

When evening began it's gentle approach and shadows lengthened, we set aside our works and gathered for dinner and socializing. Not that there weren't brief breaks throughout the day, breakfast, lunch, snacks, but the key word is "brief." The end of the day signalled a shift from isolated creativity to mixing and mingling food, drink, and talk.

The Tea & Strumpets ladies, Sofie Couch and Elvy Howard delighted our tastebuds with Lasagna and Grilled Chicken & Shrimp, respectively.
Even a confirmed veggie-phobe like myself could find nothing to fault in Sofie's lasagna even if it did have spinach in it. No, honestly, I eat the occasional green, and the spinach in the lasagna added color and flavor. Elvy's grilled offerings added zest and the opportunity to eat with my fingers (my favorite utensil, when applicable).

Evening meals flowed into evening drinks. In perfect Tea & Strumpets form, Alexa Day brought a mixed case of wine to be sampled and enjoyed. Sadly, the Strumpets were unable to account for more than six or seven bottles, but it was not for lack of trying. Our efforts were accompanied by the most outrageous and captivating light shows provided by lightning bugs. Of course, discussion of the whys and wherefors of lightning bug displays dissolved into laughing lewdity and speculation. Being Strumpets, would you expect anything less?

The James River Writers dinner cooks, Mike & Shawna Christos and Leila Gaskins provided even more tummy tickling delights with Grilled Chicken and salad and Individual Pizzas with a myriad of fixin's to spread on home-made pizze crusts, respectively.

And to accompany it all were copious amounts of libations ranging from cold, clear artesian well water provided free by The Porches to a seemingly unending array of wine.

The James River Writers showed a comparable level of skill and enthusiasm in the arena of  alcoholic consumption plus nearly polishing off a bottle of whisky which I believe went by a delightful moniker of Larceny (or something - perhaps someone will correct me in the comments). Ah, proof positive that a good memory does not require total recall.

As you can tell, a fabulous time was had by all and we left with words written, ideas hatched, memories made, and connections more perfectly forged. I highly recommend The Porches Writers Retreat for anyone wishing to escape the daily distractions. You can attend solo or in a group, both will provide you results far beyond your expectations.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Wandering into my story & your belated Monday Fortune Cookie


SNARKY RESPONSE: Just make sure you've put a tracker on it or you're going to be SOL.

Let your imagination wander.

I love the fortune cookie guru. Okay, I admit, I do ask him to offer me several fortunes before I pick one, but he always manages to come up with something apropos. Apropos of nothing perhaps, but I like to think we can make it work.

This past weekend was dedicated to doing exactly that--letting my imagination wander.

I went back to The Porches with a group of writers from the James River Writers. Shawna, Mike, Katharine, Kristi, Adam, Leila, and I cut our ties with our daily grind and escaped.

Armed with our current Works In Progress, we sequestered ourselves and then threw ourselves into our writing. Some of us hoped to begin something new. Some came to add to their current project. Others were putting final touches to completed projects.

I sought a beginning for my new steampunk story. If you've visited my facebook Author's page - Denise Golinowski/Author - you've probably seen one or two of my Picture Prompt Story Snippets. Lady Aimes and Professor Algenon have featured in the majority of them and are clamoring to have their story pulled together. Thanks to this weekend, a beginning has been made and their story is off and running.

As is the structure of The Porches Writing Retreat, we spent the days in lovely, lonely pursuit of our goals, coming together briefly at breakfast and lunch. Then while twilight began to creep up the valley, we gathered for dinner and socializing.

Ah, the stories we wrote and the stories we told. Bouncing ideas off each other, and sharing suggestions for expanding ourselves and our work. There's nothing like sitting with like-minded souls and feeling the energies merge and weave.

Watching the lightning bugs flickering in the trees. Listening to the occasional train rumbling by. Scrambling toward the inner wall of the porch when the rain came. Sharing jokes, memories, and advice.

The Porches is a wonderful resource for writers. If you're in the area, seriously consider giving it a try. If you're not, seek out or create something similar for yourself. There's nothing so liberating as stepping outside your normal boundaries to test your inner boundaries.

Here's hoping you discover that your imagination truly has NO boundaries.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Taking a Break From Multitasking & Monday Fortune Cookie 7/8/13

When you multitask, you lose the essence of the moment.

SNARKY REMARK: Yeah, tell that to your boss and you'll probably lose the essence of your job.

When you multitask, you lose the essence of the moment.

Our everyday lives are filled with tasks, obligations, responsibilities. Multitasking is what we must do to fulfill what we can. For good or for bad, it's second nature to us all. And no matter how good we are at multitasking, we feel this essential loss in lots of little ways. The lack of time to just enjoy successfully completing a project. The sense that we have to push past every interim achievement in our rush to reach some penultimate goal. The feeling, when we drop onto our pillows each night that so much is yet undone, or could have been done better, or should have been savored a bit more.

A view of the 2nd floor porch

Last weekend, I had an opportunity to let all that fall way and focus on one thing and one thing only. My writing. Then, at the end of the day, I had the chance to focus on another single thing and that was the companionship of a lovely group of ladies, four of my blog sisters from Tea & Strumpets (our shared blog formerly known as W3). The venue was a wonderful writers retreat known as The Porches in Norwood,VA.

The view FROM the 2nd floor porch

Five of us drove up to this serene and secluded retreat: Leah St. James, Elvy Howard, Alexa Day, Sofie Couch, and me. We brought food, wine, and our writing. We unpacked, settled into our rooms, and put fingers to keyboards to let ourselves revel in the pure delight of writing.

My writing space
From breakfast to dinner, the rules are to be quiet and respectful of the privacy of other residents. We could write anywhere in the lovely antebellum house--our rooms, the main room, the porches or various seating areas tucked into nooks and crannies on the grounds. Instead of the usual demands upon our time, we had only to answer the needs of our bodies and our muses. We moved at our mind's pace, not the timeclock. We typed and scribbled and edited until dinner when we set aside our day's labors to enjoy good food and each other.

Seated on the upper porch, we talked and laughed. We nibbled desserts and drank wine. We watched the first star twinkle into view in the darkening sky and then ooo'd and aah'd over the nightly light show courtesy of hundreds of lightning bugs the soundtrack provided by a  single whippoorwill and a gazillion frogs.

First morning's light
It was a renewal of spirit, a confirmation of connection, and a celebration of sisterhood. A true opportunity to experience the moment--all weekend. Thank you, ladies, for joining me at The Porches and thank you, Trudy Hale, for making The Porches Writers Retreat the haven it is for writers.