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. I 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. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
I 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. Continue reading
A little over a year ago, I heard about this thing called National Novel Writing Month, a.k.a. NaNoWriMo. It sounded like a crazy idea. Therefore, I had to try it.
In November 2015 I participated in my first NaNoWriMo. Holy crap. I loved it. Not just because I managed to reach the goal of 50,000 words in 23 days, but because it felt like such a major personal accomplishment. I had been afraid of trying creative writing up to that point. NaNoWriMo gave me a reason to say, “To hell with the fear, I’m going to do this!” It was like I grew up a little bit that month and dealt with something I had been afraid of for a long time.
In addition to helping me get over the fear of creative writing, I love NaNoWriMo because it provides a deadline for getting a story written. I tend to be a perfectionist, though I have been working on getting over this. The perfectionist in me desperately wanted to go back and rework almost everything I wrote. But I was able to tell her to hush, let me get the words out to the computer within the 30 days, and she’d get her chance to edit later. And I was pleased to go back and not hate what I wrote. It was pretty not bad for a first attempt at a first draft. It was crappy like any first draft, but crap that could be worked with. The perfectionist in me has been happy to bleed red ink on the pages to make the story better (yes, I went old school and printed the first draft to edit).
Finally, I love NaNoWriMo because it is a massive rush. I have been a pantser the past two years, which just means I did very little planning and am writing by the seat of my pants. So it is a ton of fun to watch the story unfold and take turns I wasn’t even expecting. The characters also start to take on a life of their own and behave in interesting ways.
Well, speaking of NaNoWriMo, I’m behind on my word count and need to get back to my story. Can’t wait to see what the characters will do next!
I recently had the opportunity to write an author profile for the site Literary Mama. This was an interesting experience for several reasons.
First, I had never written a profile like this before. I have done interviews for radio, but not written. It was interesting going through the process of emailing back and forth, rather than talking face-to-face. I had to think through the questions a bit more. The editors were great in helping with suggestions for follow-up questions and rearranging them to flow better.
Working with editors was another new experience for me. So far, it has just been me writing on my own either on a blog or for NaNoWriMo. It was a little intimidating having someone read over my work, but their feedback was incredibly helpful.
The profile is on author Lisa Doyle, who wrote her first published novel during NaNoWriMo. She also has a full-time job outside the home, and still manages to write. I found her to be an inspiration for my own writing career.
And finally, this whole thing was interesting because I read a book that is not in my usual reading realm of sci-fi/action/fantasy/mystery. Lisa’s book Milked is about a woman who becomes a wet-nurse in modern day Chicago. And I am so glad I read it. It was honest and funny and handled the topic of breastfeeding well. So it was fun to take a chance reading something different. And I liked Lisa’s style so much that I’ll be reading whatever she publishes next.
I tried writing in a journal a few times when I was younger, but it seemed like someone would always manage to read it. Each time someone else read one of my journals, it felt like an incredible violation of privacy. It also usually resulted in that person being mad at me for what I had written, which didn’t help. So I stopped writing down my thoughts and feelings and just kept them to myself.
Then along comes this internet thing and along with it social media and blogs. Now journals aren’t just little books with cute, easy to pick locks on them. They are 1’s and 0’s out in the open for the whole world to read.
The whole flippin’ world.
The thought of it was and still is horrifying to me. But I put on my big girl panties and dutifully signed up for social media accounts and even posted a comment now and then.
Several years have passed since joining the cyberspace society and so far I haven’t completely pissed off anyone with anything I have posted online. At least not that I know of. Yet. I got brave about a year ago and started a blog. It was a big deal for me to do this, but I wasn’t writing anything terribly personal. Just talking about stuff I made and having fun with it. Still haven’t completely pissed off anyone that I know of.
Then I recently decided to make a go of this whole being an author/writer thing, and started this blog. I also set up a Twitter account dedicated to it. It has been interesting “meeting” new people via Twitter and seeing what others are sharing. I see all of these people tweeting back and forth and I find I’m still mostly standing on the sidelines. Still the shy girl who is afraid to write anything that someone else might read. (I have already thought about just deleting this post and not publishing it because this is the most personal thing I have ever written online.) Continue reading
And I recently realized it shows in my writing. But not in a good way.
I have been going through the story I wrote for NaNoWriMo last year and noticed a couple of the characters getting along way too well in parts of the story where one of them should have been super pissed off at the other. It nagged at the back of my head a little bit when I was writing it, but I didn’t fully see it until reading through the whole story again. (This is why we edit, right?)
This also struck me as a bit funny because one of my favorite writing moments from last year involved the first big argument between these same characters. I was happily typing along letting the story unfold as my fingers hit the keys when I thought, “These people have been getting along really well. Almost too well.” And within a few sentences one of the characters started a rant with “Oh, f**k off!” I paused for a second and thought, “Okay. I guess they are going to fight now.” I think I actually giggled because it was such a cool feeling to have the story just flowing onto the screen like that. Then I quickly went back into the rant and finished the scene. Continue reading
Hi! My name is Rhonda Havig and I am a wife, mother, and writer. I have a BA in Communication from Stephen F. Austin State University (Go Jacks!) and I took so many English classes as electives that ended up with a second minor. Why so many English classes? Because I love to read and I found myself drawn to the literature classes.
After college, I worked in bookstores for a few years. I would basically hand back my pay checks to buy books, especially when I was at a used bookstore that sold Vladimir Nabokov first editions. I eventually moved on to a couple of sales and marketing positions before ending up in the information technology realm where I remain today. I have worked in pretty much all aspects of web development including content development, design, coding, and server and database management.
Over the years, I have moved further away from the creative aspects and found that I really missed it. So I started trying different arts and crafts and in 2015 started a blog about it called Havig It All. I enjoyed writing about the creative adventures as much as trying new things. Around that same time, I heard about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Writing 50,000 words in 30 days sounded ridiculous. And so very tempting to try.
I decided in September to participate and thought about what story I would write. I knew exactly what it would be by mid October. Then on October 31, I changed my mind and went in a different direction. This made November even more interesting writing the story with little to no planning. I wrote my butt off and managed to not only finish the story, but I wrote just over 50,000 words in 23 days. Woohoo!
And that was it. I was, and still am, hooked on writing. As a result, I have taken workshops, read books, and talked with other writers in an effort to learn more about the craft. I also started this blog to write about writing, as well as books and authors I like.
(NaNoWriMo Winner Image Courtesy of National Novel Writing Month)