Monday, May 30, 2011

The Success of a Triumphant Writer

The discovery of someone reading what I have written is an unexpected and wondrous gift. Theresa Wiza

The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you've got it made.
Jean Giraudoux (1882 - 1944)


I may have been around 11-years-old when my eyes settled upon the unwrapped Christmas present that sat among all the other wrapped presents beneath our tree. It was a typewriter (yes, I'm that old).

That magical gift represented my destiny,  a destiny that included success, and I felt an immediate and profound connection with that typewriter.

With beaming eyes, I wasted no time typing story after story after story after story – until the ribbon ran dry. And when I discovered that my parents never had the time or the desire to replace the ribbon, I learned how to rewind it, so I could use that same ribbon again and again and again. 

Shopping for school supplies was exhilarating for me too. Pens, pencils, crayons, paper, notebooks all gave me a sense of pleasure as I smelled them and touched them, and then glimmered at the thought of what I could create with them.

Creativity has always been one of my favorite words, and I knew my success lay hidden within it, waiting for me to unravel its surprises.

But I knew nothing about how to break into the writing field, as you would discover if you read, Expectations of a Writing Career (a previous blog where I explain the merry-go-round ride of an amateur writer attempting to shatter the barriers that prevent writers – who just wanted to write for a living – from becoming successful writers).

Though writing never paid my bills, I continued to pen my thoughts and my stories, and I gathered my research as I awaited the day somebody somewhere might find within my words a treasure of sorts. In my dreams, when I looked upon the faces of my readers, faces that mirrored my happiness and joy, I would feel like the successful writer I knew myself to be. Their comments would assure me that I was offering them something they enjoyed reading.

Writing for a living has been a struggle though. I would like to say that I felt successful when the number of page views in my Associated Content from Yahoo articles exceeded the 100,000 mark, but I didn't. I would like to say I felt successful when the first person who read one of my blogs "followed" it, but I didn't.

I think I, like other writers, have set up a standard for myself that I aspire to meet, a standard that says, once you get "here," you will be successful.

But in order to get "here," I have to know how to recognize where "here" is, and I have to know how I define success. What happens if success slaps me in the face and I don't recognize it? What if I am already successful, but the world doesn't know it yet?

My mind wanders to a screenplay I am currently writing with a partner. I met her online and her personality fit in really well with the characters in the screenplay. I just knew she could whip it into shape and that together we would make a great team. What if that screenplay is already a success but neither she nor I know it yet?

Does that mean I'm NOT a success – yet? Or does it mean that I AM a success, but that I just don't realize it – yet?

That word – yet – holds a lot of promise.

I have always wanted to write for a living. To me, writing for a living has always meant "success." But in my dream of success, I am sitting on a screened-in porch, laptop in hand, looking out occasionally across the lake that stretches before me, finding inspiration in the undulating waters and the light breezes that rustle through the trees and through my hair. I watch my fingers fly rapidly over the keyboard as I create masterpieces with my mind.

THAT is my vision of success. THAT is my measure of success – living on a lake, writing from my laptop, making a living from writing.

Fake It Till You Make It. Those words, used by AA and Alanon, just occurred to me. AA and Alanon claim those words work. I think I'll give it a shot. Today, for this blog, I am pretending to be a success. Today I will fake being a success until I make it as a success. And I will dream of living on a lake and visualizing the scenery that is playing out in my head.

The gentle waves of the lake fuel my imagination. Soft breezes blow across my face. My fingers caress the keys on my laptop.

I can see success! I can feel it. I will triumph!

I am a success.

I am a success.

I am a success.


This post was written as part of a new Group Blogging Experience (or GBE), previously begun by a woman named Alicia. Today Beth, along with Marie Anne, continue the experience for bloggers to associate with one another, support each other's blogging experience, and hopefully expand their readership by providing a network for bloggers.

This week's topic: success.

Want to participate? Go to the new GBE 2 on Facebook (click the link) and join the fun!




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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Expectations of a Writing Career

Unfinished crocheted chokers and necklaces.
If you paint in your mind a picture of bright and happy expectations, you put yourself into a condition conducive to your goal. Norman Vincent Peale (1898 - 1993)

From the time I was old enough to hold a pencil in my hand, I knew – I expected – that I would be a writer. I held all kinds of non-writing jobs from cocktail waitressing to secretarial to graphics design, but ultimately I settled upon my true calling, writing.

So it was with great expectations when I moved to New York to live with a "friend" (excuse me if I get sick) who promised to introduce me to other writers, agents, and publicists, that I fully expected to meet other writers, agents, and publicists. I was ecstatic.

Until he told me, after I had moved in with him – with my daughter – that I had to sleep with him in order to meet those other writers, agents, and publicists.

In his dreams.

But while I was there, with the naivety of an emotional teenager (though I was clearly an adult), I thought, why not try to make it as a writer on my own? After all, if you can make it in New York, as the saying goes, you can make it anywhere, right?

And why settle for just any writing job? Why not aim high? So I CALLED (yes called) Saturday Night Live and offered my services as a comedy writer. I don't think I ever even wrote one sentence that was funny, but I loved to laugh.

"Have you ever had anything published?"

No.

"Do you have an agent?"

Well, no.

"Do you belong to the Guild?"

No, but I'll belong – if that's what it takes.

I hung up sad, but not defeated.

My next call was to the William Morris Agency. As I said, I was aiming high.

"Have you ever had anything published?"

Not yet.

"Do you belong to the Guild?"

Am I on Candid Camera's audio version?

Well, as you might expect, my next call was to the Writers Guild of America.

"Do you have an agent?"

Shoulders slump. I know what she's going to say next.

"Have you ever had anything published?"

HOW DO I GET OFF THIS LITERARY MERRY-GO-ROUND?!

I guess I'd better get something published, I thought.

OK, still not giving up. I had a stash of greeting cards and the names and addresses of greeting card companies all across America. I would send them my unique greeting cards – they were unlike anything anybody had ever seen before. I was about to become WEALTHY!

Unfortunately I was way ahead of my time, because back in the 70s the only cards that existed were the sappy sentimental types. Mine were filled with sarcasm.

Of all the companies I sent my cards, the ones who responded told me "there is no market for these kinds of cards." And every time I received those letters, I screamed inwardly, I KNOW! I'M CREATING THE MARKET!

Interestingly, at the same time I was living in New York, two New Yorkers, who called their greeting card company, Bittersweet (I wonder if they still exist), designed a bunch of greeting cards similar to mine, but the two woman who started the company had the money to invest in their greeting cards and months later, after I had moved back to Illinois, they appeared in People Magazine.

Money. Why does it always take money?

Anyway, today, shelves of sarcastic cards line the walls in stores across the globe, constant reminders that if only I had had the money to invest in MY greeting cards, I might have had a career in the greeting card industry.

But did I really want to just create greeting cards? No. I wanted to write articles, poetry, books, and screenplays.

And then, one day, somebody invented the blog, a word that never even made it into my vocabulary until the last decade. Who'd have ever guessed that blogging would be a creative outlet for writing? And for so many people!

I'm still writing articles, poetry, and screenplays. I'm also using my creativity in other ways. Writing, by itself, is just not paying the bills. Illness, kids, life itself, and my scattered brain just keep getting in the way.

My expectations have not changed, though. I still expect to one day make it as a writer, but due to a myriad physical problems that have forced me to slow down over the past couple of years, I am looking for other ways to enhance my income. Some unfinished projects sit in the photo above. Etsy, here I come.

And when one of my screenplays transitions from words on a page to the Big Screen, you will know.

This post was written as part of a new Group Blogging Experience (or GBE), previously begun by a woman named Alicia. Today Beth, along with Marie Anne, continue the experience for bloggers to associate with one another, support each other's blogging experience, and hopefully expand their readership by providing a network for bloggers.

This week's topic: expectations.

Want to participate? Go to the new GBE 2 on Facebook (click the link) and join the fun!

If you would like to read more from this author, please see the sidebar and THANK YOU for visiting!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Blind Writing Creative Writing Game



What writer doesn't like word games like Scrabble, Boggle, Crossword Puzzles, Word Search, and  my favorite board game – Balderdash (because it allows me to form bizarre definitions for words most people haven't heard)?

As a writer, I wondered how a story game might work and that's when I decided to create a game that included sentences – a story writing game, if you will. I designed the Blind Writing Game for writers – and even non-writers – to give them an opportunity to build a story – blindly.

The story can be written with all players present, or the Blind Writing Game can be played online. The Blind Writing Game turned out to be more fun than I thought it would be, and I'd like to introduce it to you with the following instructions for both the In-Person Blind Writing Game and the Online Blind Writing Game.

How to Play the In Person Blind Writing Game

Sit a minimum of four people around a table with a ruled piece of paper (makes it easier to read), pens or pencils, and a couple of paper clips. Number the paper from one to forty (or more depending upon the number of players – sentences must be in increments of ten per player).

The First Player writes the Title of the Story, and passes it along to the Second Player. Players number 3 and 4 do not see the Title.

The Second Player, after seeing the Title, adds the First Sentence. The Second Player then covers the Title by folding the paper over the title and clipping the folds to cover the Title. The Third Player should see only the First Sentence.

The Third Player, oblivious of what the title says, sees the first sentence, writes the Second Sentence, making an assumption about the connection between the First Sentence and the Title. The Third Player then covers up all but the Second Sentence and moves the story forward to the Fourth Player who sees only the Second Sentence.

The Fourth Player then adds the Third Sentence and hides all but the Third Sentence for the First Player.

The game continues as paper clips move down the folded paper for the duration of the story until players reach #40. Each player knows only his or her contributions, along with contributions written by the preceding player.

IMPORTANT: In order for writers to succeed in writing an actual story, sentences must be descriptive. Each writer logically moves the story forward without knowing all of the details.

By the time players reach #40 (if four players), they know the story must come to a logical ;) conclusion. The First Player, or any other player who chooses to read the story, then reads the resulting story out loud.

Results can be VERY entertaining, because as stories go off on tangents, and as each player attempts to bring back what he or she thinks is the story focus, the Blind Writing Game produces some hilarious results.

How to Play the Online Blind Writing Game

A Moderator begins the Online Blind Writing Game. The Moderator is responsible for collecting all of the pieces of the story and contributes only the (descriptive) Title.

The Moderator assigns numbers to each player. If the Moderator chooses four players, for example, the Moderator will write down 40 numbers, assigning numbers 1, 5, 9, 13, 17, 21, 25, 29, 33, and 37 to the First Player, 2, 6, 10 14, 18, 22, 26, 30, 34, and 38 to the Second Player, 3, 7, 11, 15, 19, 23, 27, 31, 35, and 39 to the Third Player, and 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, 36, and 40 to the Fourth Player.

The more players (with a minimum of ten sentences each), the longer the story will be.

After the Moderator chooses the players, the Moderator writes a DESCRIPTIVE Title. The Moderator then emails the Title to the First Player, who writes the 1st Sentence and sends the 1st Sentence back to the Moderator.

The Moderator then sends only the 1st Sentence to Player # 2, who sends the 2nd Sentence to the Moderator. The game continues until Player # 4 sends back Sentence #40. All players are blind to all but their own and their predecessor's contributions. The Moderator then sends the complete story to all of the players.

Each player can then publish the story in a blog if they wish. Be prepared for laughter and lots of fun.

Writing Creatively grants permission to you if you want to post online the Blind Writing Game and the accompanying graphic, as long as the instructions and the graphic for the Blind Writing Game link back to this blog.

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