Thursday, December 30, 2021

Sending 2021 Out with a Swift Kick

Okay. I'll admit it. I was on Tinder this year. What an awful place. Whew, I survived and probably won't be going back. But if YOU are in the market and are an eligible bachelor who finds yourself on that (or any) humbling online dating site, here are a few words of gentle but sound advice. 

These missteps will likely reduce your sex appeal:

  1. No photo

  2. No introduction statement

  3. Your age is ≧ 0 

  4. Pictures include girlfriend OR unidentified female clinging to your neck

  5. Majority of your pictures include your dog. Just your dog.

  6. Head cut off in photo

  7. Selfie in bathroom mirror (Does everyone think this is sexy?)

  8. Toss-up, selfie in car (They sure think this is sexy!)

  9. No clothes (Seriously, I saw more than I'd like.)

  10. Frown or no smiling pics

  11. Another toss-up, selfie with earbuds

  12. All pictures include exercising

  13. A third toss-up, posting pictures of feet, in socks, shoes, or bare

  14. Wearing a clown costume with a blue wig. In every photo.

  15. Misspelling the word “too”

  16. You’re already married

  17. Chastising anyone not searching for a hookup

  18. Begging for a response: “C’mon ladies, swipe, please!”

  19. There are more ellipses … than words … in your personal … statement.

  20. Declaring: “I like to do it!”

  21. Posting phone number because “If you don’t call, someone else will!”

  22. Toss-up #4: Using acronyms/phrases/words requiring the use of the Urban Dictionary: ITB, sapiophile, AMA

  23. Overusing emoticons ☹☹☹☹

  24. Statements that life is short, so “Sister, you better take a chance on me!”

Well, I didn’t take a chance on many. I did laugh a lot. See ya, 2021. We had some fun.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Normalizing Your Writing Practice

Using trendy language and tropes generally isn't a great idea in writing. But I'll use the word "normalizing" in this post because it goes straight to the subject. If you're a writer, if you are trying to cultivate a practice while wondering what the hell you're doing, or whether what you're doing helps/hurts/accomplishes your goals, then one sure thing will support you: a writing cohort.

Jennifer Fulford and Micki Selvitella, writer friends
Sorry to use such a $2 word: cohort. It sounds academic when it's just shorthand. I'm not talking about a critique group. Those can be helpful, too, in other ways: to keep your word count up, to keep your stories honest. But a writing cohort is something more loose; it's the people you know who take their writing somewhat seriously, have produced work that actually goes out into the world for other people to consume, and who are actively working on future work to publish. These are the folks who'll normalize your experience by reflecting on their own. They're the people you'll discuss: "Here's where I'm going. How about you?" You need this conversation once in a while to "normalize" your habits/practice and not feel alone. It reminds you why you are doing what you are doing and that you aren't astray. 

This blog is subtitled: Notes on a Writing Life. I can't tell you how to live a "writing life." No one really can. It's as individual as your DNA. How many words you write in a day/month/year has nothing to do with your worth as a writer. "Making it" by getting an agent and a book deal may be your goal. That's all fine and good. But there are many iterations of "making it" that have nothing to do with commercial success. Success comes in many forms and by many paths. Understanding the individuality of your experience by checking in with your peers helps you to discern what's best for you.

I have some good writers in my life. Novelists. Poets. Journalists. They are incredibly interesting, dedicated, outlandish, unconventional, wonderful, decent people. I hope they get from me what I get from them. My habits, foibles, successes, and trials aren't unique. My goals are to keep writing and not stop, to write something people can enjoy and possibly learn from. Here's where I'm going. How about you?

Sunday, August 8, 2021

At A Crossroads

My next book is coming out, and the opportunity to move in a new direction is imminent.

The Book of Ulie by Jennifer M. Fulford
The conclusion of a book, in this case by publishing it, brings a sense of fulfillment, excitement, and letdown. Why letdown? Because the birth "process" is over. All the labor and worry about the way the story will unfold comes to an end. The process for The Book of Ulie took me more than seven years. Obviously, I wasn't working on the manuscript for a solid seven years. I started it and wrote it in about two, then put it aside for about four, then resurrected it to get it out of my system. Don't get me wrong. I have liked this book from the beginning A LOT. It's a good story. Catchy, infectious. (Even my mom liked it, and she's a hard reader to please.) The break from it was just life happening.

Readers may wonder: Is Ulie you? No and yes. No, she's not how I am as a person. Yes, she comes from parts of my experiences and thoughts. But, she's not the true me. I'd like to be more like her in some ways but not in others.

She's a writer, working on a book, and that's how I am now and always. My crossroads is: What should I do next? How should I change to broaden my audience? Should I write more for personal or commercial success? Ulie asks the metaphysical: Who am I? I guess I'm doing the same. 

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Make Room for Headspace

For years, I've been whispering into my own ear: "Go on a retreat." Several of my more intuitive and spiritual friends plan them routinely, sometimes more than a few times a year, to get out of their heads. Frankly, for me, making time to make time is a little like digging in sand. 

I bump into myself regularly trying to commit to stretches of only writing. When brilliant flashes of freedom tempt me, it doesn't take long until I'm cleaving to door jambs, afraid to leave the chores undone and the cats to their own devices. But streaks of creativity don't just spontaneously happen. You plan them; or, you practice them. Otherwise, you just aren't productive. 

The added bonus of going away from home is finding inspiration. I went away for a few days recently and, even though my wordcount was low, the rejuvenation factor was high. The trip reminded me of the importance of making room for headspace, because writing is a head thing. Even if speech-to-text becomes more universal, thinking is an essential ingredient to crafting a story. Thinking without a cluttered mind and surroundings (bills, dust bunnies, laundry) can be priceless. 

Let me show you where I went. And, I'll be upfront that the hosts of the Inn on Mill Creek in Old Fort, NC, generously gifted this trip. I'm sincerely grateful for their hospitality. It's fitting that the materials promoting the Inn include quotes from writersJane Austen, John Muir, Robert Frostbecause this place is suited for solitude and contemplation. The number of places on the property where peace and quiet are available is much longer than my favorites list.

Best Spots at Inn on Mill Creek for Writers

#1 The desk in the shared TV room of the Deck House. I was lucky enough not to have to share the TV room with anyone because of renovations. But, you can see why this hovel screams WRITE! Apparently, I'm not the first writer to think this spot is the bee's knees. It overlooks a water feature.

Writer's Desk at Inn on Mill Creek in Old Fort, NC

#2 The deck off of my bedroom. Brigette Walters, who's an innskeeper, told us that the adjacent lake and wetlands sound like a meditation app. No kidding.

#3 The boardwalk. This marvelous area emerged recently from the handiwork of Brigette's husband and co-innskeeper, Dave. Dave's a retired engineer who decided in late 2019 to build a floating boardwalk over a wetland area on their seven private acres. He finished it in about five months, constructing 10 feet at a time. It's an amazing addition to the grounds, and I didn't spend nearly enough time on it. I'm going back when he adds the bell, hand-crafted from an old fuel tank. BTW, the seats in the magnolia tree are placed in the exact spot where Dave got the inspiration to build the boardwalk in the first place. Dave, you're cool!

#4 Brigette's gardens. Brigette loves plants and birds and people. She even recognizes a few of the squirrels, who she admonishes when they visit the birdfeeders in the garden near the breakfast solarium. It's okay, Brigette. We'll wait for the hummingbirds. 

This place makes a writer wanna go Thoreau: just slip into the woods and not come back. Maybe next time, I won't.