|Books about Writing and Writers|
First, I need to make note of the fact that I have not written many blog posts for Complexity Simplified this year. This isn't due to having nothing to say (I always have something to say) but, rather, to having a lot of other writing activities taking up my time and energy. One of my blogging venues for a time was the #amwriting blog, which was a great place to share tips about craft and the writing process with other writers. That blog has now been permanently archived, but the posts are all still available, including one I wrote about my favorite books for writers. In another, I shared a few simple yoga poses for writers that can help writers manage the physical challenges that often impede our writing.
In addition to this little bit of blogging, I have been writing - a lot. Over the summer I participated in my own personal a Story-A-Week project in which I either wrote a first draft of a new story or completed a revised draft of an existing short story every week. My project ran from the second week of May to the end of August and was inspired by the Story-A-Day challenge. I attempted this challenge before realizing that the daily pace was too fast for me and I needed to spend a bit more time with each story to feel like I'd actually "written a story." So, instead of abandoning the idea, I adapted it to my own needs and I’m thrilled with how it worked out.
Although there were 17 weeks in my summer, I actually completed only 15 stories, since two of those weeks were spent in Iowa working on another exciting writing venture (more on that below!) Still, I am very pleased with the results of my Story-A-Week project, as it resulted in 15 story drafts, 6 of which were brand new pieces. I took several of these to my critique group for feedback and got three of them into decent-enough shape that I sent them out to literary magazines. One story was sent to two places. Of these four submissions, one piece, my very first attempt at flash fiction, was accepted for publication (yes!) and is due to appear in 2014 in Gargoyle Magazine.
The Story-A-Week project went onto the back burner in July when I traveled to the University of Iowa for a ten-day writing intensive at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. While there, I took three short courses: (1) Advanced Novel; (2) Yoga and Writing; and (3) The Seven Basic Plots. The latter two were short weekend seminars, but the first was a weeklong writers’ workshop led by a fantastic instructor, Rebecca Johns. Twelve of us, all aspiring novelists, submitted the first 30 pages of our novels-in-progress along with a plot synopsis for the rest of the book and we spent the week reading, critiquing and learning from Rebecca about plot structure, characterization, the best way to enter a story, point of view, and on and on.
One result of the Iowa workshop was a realization that the novel I’d been working on for a couple of years needed to be restructured. I recently finished a revision based on what I learned in Iowa and have shipped it off to a writing consultant to get additional feedback about whether it’s ready now to be sent out.
Another result of the Iowa workshop was a clear understanding that what I needed more than anything to improve my writing was more education and instruction. The experience in Iowa was exciting, challenging and life changing and I came home from it knowing I needed more like it. I spent the fall researching graduate writing programs and finally decided to take the plunge and apply for an MA program. I’m thrilled to report that I’ve just been accepted to Johns Hopkins for the MA in Writing program, with a concentration in Fiction. I start classes in just a few weeks and even though I’m certain my life is going to get a lot busier with class assignments being juggled along with all my other activities, I am very much looking forward to tackling the chaos.