Salon Saturday

Quotes that Inspire

I type up quotes and tape them to the walls of my office. They keep me company. I read the words of these writers who are doing this work or have done and I feel less alone.

“If you skip a day or more between your writing sessions, your mind will drift away from these deep moments of your story. You will find that you’ll have to slog back to a place that would have been easily attained if only you wrote everyday.” – Walter Mosley

“Creativity itself doesn’t care at all about results–– the only thing it craves is the PROCESS. Learn to love the process and let whatever happens next happen, without fussing too much about it.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

“Write in recollection and amazement for yourself.” – Jack Kerouac

“There isn’t any secret. You sit down and you start and that’s it.” – Elmore Leonard

‘The best advice on writing I’ve ever received: Finish.” – Peter Mayle

What quotes inspire you? I’m always looking for new ones to add to my collection. Please share them or a link to your own post in the comments.

Salon Saturday

What Kind of Writer Am I? What Do I Love to Write?

These questions come from “Juicy Pens, thirsty paper” by Sark which I highly recommend.

I am a fiction kind of  writer. A journal writer. A blog writer. A crwative non-fiction writer. A stream-of-consciousness writer. I write first thing in the morning. I write in the middle of the afternoon. I write at night. There’s a different energy at night and I like that.

I’m the the self-taught kind of writer. Although aren’t we all? Even those lucky enough to attend an MFA program still have to do the work themselves, alone, at their desks.  I have taught myself to write through writing and reading and attending classes and workshops and then more writing and reading. I have had wonderful teachers over the years but my best teachers are my stories. I learn something new from each one.

I love to write stories. Some are flash, some are long and almost novel-esque.

I often naturally write about adolescent girls. Their lives are rich and complicated dn provide great material for stories.

I am a great first draft writer. I love spilling that first draft onto the page. It’s harder for me to go back in and see what I ‘ve got and make sense out of it. It’s often frustrating in the same way that those 3-D hidden pictures are. I stare and stare at them and can never see the 3-D image. I usually end up tossing the book across the room. Well, with a first draft I often find myself reading it and reading it, trying to land on the arc of the story but it eludes me. I try not to throw the notebook or computer across the room. Often it takes time away from it or a fresh pair of eyes to see what I miss which is why I always try to part of an amazing writer’s group. They are invaluable.

I don’t always love to write but I alway love having written. Writing anything is always better than nothing.

How about you? What kind of writer are you? What do you love to write? I’d love to hear from you. Share a link or your thoughts in the comments.

Books Read in December

My reading theme this month was to read linked stories or novel-in-stories in preparation for my own project which I am revising, writing and finishing this year.

“Ask for a Convertible” stories by Danit Brown

These connected stores explore the meaning of place in our lives. Osnat and her American father and Israeli mother finally leave Tel Aviv, a place her father hated but put up with for many years. Now it’s her mother’s turn. She hates America and lets that be known. The stories follow Osnat as she grows up and away from her parents, struggling to find her place in the world.

I read this book with a pen in hand to underline sentences I love. Read them here. I also appreciated how the stories shift between characters instead of following Osnat in a straight line throughout her life which is how my current project is shaping up. It’s nice to see another option done so well.

“The Joy of Funerals” a novel in stories by Alix Strauss

Each story gives us a glimpse into murky yet startling world of loss and grief. The novella, “The Joy of funerals” ties the stories together as we meet Nina who has attended the previous funerals in hope of creating some kind of bond to fill the gaping loneliness she carries with her. I liked revisiting other characters and seeing their story through Nina’s.

“Stop the Girl” fiction by Elizabeth McKenzie

I remember reading about his book in “O” magazine and feeling depressed. it sounded so much like my project. Linked stories revolving around an adolescent girl, following her as she grows up. Then I picked it up and read this review on the cover: “single-handedly reinvigorates the coming-of-age genre.” That threw me into another creative tailspin because that must mean that mine is the cliche coming-of-age story. Once I got past all the angst I read it and loved it. I read it again this month and still love it. Ann Ransom is quirky but not desperately so. The grandmother, Dr. Frost is one of the most memorable characters ever. Things I learned and want to keep in mind as I write: the importance of place; a strong voice; surround her with other strong and memorable characters.

“Juicy Pens Thirsty Paper” by Sark

This is the third of fourth time I’ve read this one. It’s the perfect antidote to any kind of creative block. It’s especially lovely to read when it is cold and snowy out- the whimsical and colorful pages brighten your day and your spirit.

Salon Saturday

Welcome to a new feature here at “No Credentials Necessary.” I am hoping this becomes a place to share various aspects of the writing, creative and publishing life. My plan is to muse on a specific topic and that all of you will do the same at your respective blogs and then link here in the comments section.

New Year Writing Intention

I like to focus on a specific intention for the new year then create mini goals that move toward that intention. This year my focus word is “Action.” I was already thinking of choosing this word when I came across this two things:

“I will act now. I will act now. I will act now. Henceforth, I will repeat these words each hour, each day, everyday, until the words become as much a habit as my breathing, and the action which follows becomes as instinctive as the blinking of my eyelids. With these words I can condition my mind to perform every action necessary for my success. I will act now. I will repeat these words again and again and again. I will walk where failures fear to walk. I will work when failures seek rest. I will act now for now is all I have. Tomorrow is the day reserved for the labor of the lazy. I am not lazy. Tomorrow is the day when the failure will succeed. I am not a failure. I will act now. Success will not wait. If I delay, success will become wed to another and lost to me forever. This is the time. This is the place. I am the person.” – Og Mandino

I found it (or it found me) at this lovely blog. I created a vision board where this quote is prominent and I can read it daily.

Then I stumbled across this article. I love what she says here: “…whatever a person did with thoughtful consistency for the first 32 days of the year set the course for the entire year.”

To keep myself in action with thoughtful consistency  I am using what Sark calls micro-movements. It is based on the Japanese philosophy of kaizen which can be used in creativity coaching. I’ve read about it but never really believed that such miniscule actions could make any kind of difference. Then I tried it. i often start my new year intention in December to get some momentum behind me to propel me into the new year. i told myself that I only needed to work for five minutes on a story. Five minutes. that’s all that was required of me. But it has to be daily. It is kind of like working out. If you tell yourself you only have to do it for say ten minutes, chances are pretty good that you’ll go longer because A. you’re all suited up for it and B. those endorphins kick in. The same has happened for me with writing. Some days I only wrote for five minutes because I had to just squeeze it in but those days were actually incredibly useful. Both times I did a freewrite. One was on “What I don’t know about this story yet” and another was just a stream of consciousness from the POV of the character. Both made it into the story because they revealed something I didn’t know and wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t shown up for even just a mere five minutes. Most days though the five minutes turned into much longer. More time = more writing. But more words on the page isn’t the only benefit. Showing up to a story each day also keeps the story alive in my mind. I am scribbling more notes to myself as things occur to me throughout the day. As Walter Mosley says: “… the rest of the day will be rife with motive moments in your unconsciousness; moments in your mind. which is mulling over the places your words have touched.”

I am interested in what your creative/writing goals/intentions are for the year. Do you make them? If so, how do you plan on keeping them? If not, why not? What kind of year do your envision for your writing life? Please post a link in the comments section.

Wishing you all a creative, productive writing year!