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Author: Rhonda Havig

My Word of the Year for 2019

I decided to pick a word for this year. Several other people seem to be doing it and I figured, what the heck? It seems like a good way to bring focus for the year without having to invest in supplies or try to cram one more thing into what feels like an already overstuffed schedule.

In case you are wanting to sort out how to go about selecting your own word for the year, too, here’s what I did:

  1. Thought about the things I wanted to accomplish in the near future.
  2. Looked for a common theme among those things.
  3. Came up with a list of words to summarize the theme.
  4. Chose my word.

I didn’t write it down or do anything fancy. I thought it through in my head, because that’s just how I process things. When I finally got to the last step, the word I chose for 2019 is:

History in the Cemetery

I used to play in a cemetery when I was a kid. We were always respectful of the graves, but my friends and I would play house claiming different plots as our “homes.” Loved it. So when I had the opportunity to go on a tour of a cemetery that has as much beauty as history, I jumped at it.

The tour was at Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, OH. Among many other famous folks buried there are Erma Bombeck, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and the Wright brothers. That alone makes this a really interesting place. It also has a 3,000 trees and 165 specimens of woody plants. Oh, and it is considered one of the most haunted places in Dayton.

The theme of the tour I was on was History, Mystery, Murder, and Mayhem. We got to hear about all sorts of people from inventors to murderers to robbers. The cool thing was we heard about people I hadn’t heard of before like Rev. Lorennzo Lorraine Lanstroth, the father of modern beekeeping. He lived in the 1800s and more than a century later, his beekeeping methods are still in use.

Jumbled Mess

I feel like my brain has been a jumbled mess for the past few months. The AWW weekend was awesome and I was fired-up to get back into writing and other creative pursuits.

Then things sorta slipped away from me.

It started with our betta fish dying. May you rest in peace, Bob the Feared. The fact that I had been part of a team to keep this fish alive for 10 months was a big deal given that the last time I tried to take care of a fish, it died within 2 days. May you rest in peace, Jaws, and I am still sorry for overfeeding your fish, Jamie.

Then the much bigger event happened. My stepfather passed away. That was tough. He had been sick for quite some time and seemed to have just tanked this year. I was watching this unfold from more than a thousand miles away and felt completely helpless. Not that I could have done much if I was there, but still. You know what I mean. After he passed, there was an odd mix of emotions and it was interesting watching how other people reacted. I’d like to write more about that in its own post, but need to put a little more time between those events/observations and writing about them.

What I Learned this Weekend at AWW 2017

This past weekend I attended the Antioch Writers’ Workshop (AWW) 2017 Saturday seminar, as well as the keynote and craft class with Hugo Award winner John Scalzi. My head just about popped with all of the knowledge poured into it by some fantastic speakers. Creative WritingI can’t imagine what it would be like to attend the full week, but I hope to find out one of these years.

After taking some time to mentally digest the new knowledge, I wanted to share with you three things I took away from the weekend. There were far more than three things I learned, but these are the ones that stood out.

1) Find a process that works for you.

Sometimes I worry so much about doing things the “right way” that I get discouraged and don’t move forward. This is a useless approach to getting anything done. Even though I know better, I still get caught up in this trap. Silly. 

Summer Reads 2017

This year is flying by, so I wanted to share some great summer reads for 2017 before we are raking leaves in the fall. These are some books that haven’t necessarily come out in the past year – I just happened to have have read them in the past year. Each one is light and/or fun making them perfect for summer reading.

Enjoy!

Where the Hell is Tesla?Where the Hell is Tesla?
by Rob Dircks

A guy, Chip, finds Nikola Tesla’s notebook with information on where to find an “Interdimensional Transfer Apparatus” he created. Chip convinces his best friend to go with him to find this “Interdimensional Transfer Apparatus” and they go through it into, well, and interdimensional transfer area. And the hilarity ensues. I laughed out loud so many times while I read this book.

Where the Hell is Tesla? is written in emails. Very long emails. At first I was concerned it was going to be awful, but it was awesome. The format worked well with the story.

I highly, highly recommend this book as a fun escape from reality. Be aware the curse words flow freely and there is plenty of junior-high-level humor in it. But it was inline with the characters, so it didn’t feel gratuitous.

Who am I?

No, this isn’t a post about an existential crisis or Les Miserables. It’s about who I am as a writer.

I recently attended the Antioch Writers’ Workshop Spring Seminar and two recurring themes throughout the day were “be a good literary citizen” and “figure out who you are as a writer.”

Being a good literary citizen includes doing things like spreading the word about books you are reading, writing online reviews of books, helping other writers with advice and encouragement, etc. Basically, be a good person as a writer. In the interest of being a good literary citizen, I have tried to promote other books and writers on Twitter more. I realized I have been a complete slacker about writing reviews, so I plan to review books I have read on Amazon, Goodreads, and on my blog. I have also had the chance to write author profiles for LiteraryMama.com, which has been a lot of fun.

So being a good literary citizen was the easy theme of the day to deal with. The more difficult one was figuring out I am as a writer.

Some of the people there talked about how they spend a few hours in the morning writing, or they get up at 4:30 a.m. to have some quiet time to write. I have a full-time job outside the home, so I can’t devote large chunks of the day to writing. As for the early morning, I’m pretty sure me being awake at 4:30 a.m. on a regular basis is one of the signs of the apocalypse. I also have a family and I make jewelry, and I’m not willing to give up time for either. Let me be clear and note I am not saying that people who write give up time with their families. I admire those who do get up at crazy early hours just so they can still have time with their families. My unwillingness to be up before the buttcrack of dawn just to write left me questioning my commitment and wondering if I really am cut out to be a writer. It bothered me enough that I was having a hard time sitting down to write a post about the seminar, even though I really enjoyed it.

Okay, maybe this post is a little bit about an existential crisis as a writer.

Took a Little Break from Writing

Blank JournalI ended up taking a little break from writing after NaNoWriMo this year. It wasn’t really planned, it just happened.

NaNoWriMo was a success for me again this year in that I wrote almost every day in November and managed to type just over 50,000 words in the process. I didn’t really like my story, though. I think the problem was I wrote it in the first person as a 15-year-old high school student. There is not enough money in the world to make me want to go back to high school again, so that likely tainted my perception of the experience. I think the general story has potential, but there were times when I just struggled with what to do with some of the characters. After all, it has been many moons since I was in high school and the world has changed so much in that time. I think I will revisit it again some day but rewrite it with the main characters as adults. We’ll see.

I also did not work on editing my story from NaNoWriMo 2015. I did find it crossing my mind. A lot. I miss the characters. I can relate to them better, probably because there is a lot of me in the main character. Does that make me narcissistic? Maybe. No more than any other writer who puts bits of themselves into their characters, though. I just grabbed my printed copy with notes and put it on my desk so I can get back to this.