Friday Fun – How do you sing to your danger?

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION:  

When danger approaches sing to it.

Arab proverb

So much of good writing results from experiencing “danger” in our own lives. People get sick or die, families are threatened by financial insecurity, and politicians infringe on our rights. Even a personal challenge (like taking a long walk with your son) can present moments of danger.

Think about when you have experienced a profound sense of danger. Sit there and really chew on that feeling – notice that sudden race of pulse, that sweat that breaks out, that sense that you have to get up and physically move away from the memory.

And now try to sing to that danger by using that very specific experience in your writing going forward. Sing to make it real, sing to take away its power by sharing.

What words will you use to sing to danger?

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Deborah headshotDeborah Lee Luskin: Breathe before words. I don’t sing to my danger – during or after. I bring myself back to my breath. This helps ground me when I’m in any highly charged situation, and it helps quiet the static when I’m at my desk, so I can hear my voice and take dictation.

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lisajjacksonLisa J. Jackson:  Can’t say I’ve ever tried the singing approach, but I can relate to the feelings of fear, the adrenaline rush after the danger has passed, and the best advice I received for processing everything was “look up.”

I fell out of a raft in white water on the Colorado River several years ago and had to be rescued. I was cool and focused until I was pulled to shore – then my body shook uncontrollably – my first true experience with adrenaline. Once back in the raft and through the rest of the white water… the raft calmly being pulled along with the now-calm current, my mind replayed what happened. As I was about to get hysterical with the overwhelming emotions, I warned the 3 ladies in my raft. The tour company owner told me to “look up.” She said there’s a psychological benefit to it. I had nothing to lose, the tears were forming. I looked up … and my thoughts cleared, words became coherent in my mind, it was more akin to poetry than song as all the scary parts of the experience softened and appreciation took over.

I get scared in airplanes — looking up helps the anxiety. Attending networking events gives me the jitters — looking up helps me get my breath. Dealing with emotional situations — when I feel tears coming, I look up, take a breath and refocus.

Lee Laughlin CU 7-13

Lee Laughlin I love to sing and have been told I have a decent voice, but I sing to motivate myself.  When it comes to fear, I am a person of touch.  Placing my hands on a surface, backing myself against a wall (literally), moving close to someone I trust.  My son is very much the same way, when he gets worked up, I will place both of my hands on his shoulders and press down. It grounds him.

When there is danger, I think singing would distract me. When there is danger, I want to be focused and alert to all that is happening so I can process and react.  Now, to use that to strengthen my writing!

Friday Fun – What’s your starting point?

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: 

If you don’t daydream and kind of plan things out in your imagination, you never get there. So you have to start somewhere.

Robert Duvall

We’ve talked about goals for the coming year and the importance of breaking them down into steps and discrete actions – what is the starting point of your writing goal this year?

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wendy-shotWendy Thomas  – I’ve polished up my manuscript and my query and I’m working my way through the Guide to Literary Agents 2017. My starting point is to send out at least 5 queries a week until I’ve either gotten a nibble or run out of agents’ names (at which point I will revise and start all over again.)

lisajjacksonLisa J. Jackson: I have a goal to submit short fiction this year. My starting point is to find markets for my short stories, and actually I’m thinking I might find more markets for my non-fiction than fiction as I keep getting ideas for those markets in my e-mail! We’ll see. But this year, I definitely want to submit and publish fiction, and having a market gets me started on a path.

At the end of the Long Trail, 9/8/2016.

Deborah Lee Luskin: Great question! I don’t have an answer. I’m in the middle of several projects, both teaching and writing in addition to my regular commentaries and blogs. I’ve got a good rhythm going. It feels as if I’m already in second, ready to shift into third.

Lee Laughlin CU 7-13

Lee Laughlin – I’ll tell you next week. LOL. It’s been a slow start to the year due to illness and travel. My goal for this weekend is to work through my annual goal planner (Susannah Conway’s Unraveling the Year) and figure out what my next steps are.

Friday Fun – Are you where you want to be?

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION:  Here’s a good few questions to ground us all in the upcoming year: 

“It’s never too late to be who you might have been” – George Eliot

Who is it that you truly want to be? Are you on track?

What steps need to be taken to get you you there?

Deborah headshotDeborah Lee Luskin: Love the Elliot quote! When I’m fully present, I’m in the exactly right place. When that happens at my desk, words fly!

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JME5670V2smCROPJamie Wallace: The definition of who we want to be is a moving target, a mercurial vision that shifts and shimmers as our own hearts and minds evolve. I am not sure if anyone ever feels, or is meant to feel, that she has fully become the person she wants to be. I don’t believe we can ever be “done.” It’s not as if, after all, one is a turkey with a pop-up timer to indicate perfection.

I suppose, in a way, this means that each of us must live in a perpetual state of discontent, ever striving toward a new goal and a new identity; and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. When we stop learning and exploring and seeking adventure, we stop growing. And when we stop growing, we die.

All that said, I do not feel that I am currently on track to be the person/writer/artist I want to be. Unfortunately, I’m not sure what steps need to be taken to get me where I want to go; but I do feel a tide of sorts rising within me. It’s not just the New Year energy. It’s something else that has been building over the last year or so and seemed to reach a tipping point after the election.

The thing that makes me smile is that even though I’m not (yet) where I want to be and I’m not sure how I’m going to get there, I’m excited at the prospect of deep change and endless possibility. Eliot was right, of course, and I’m hoping to prove her point in the years ahead.

Friday Fun – 2016 Favorite Books and Movies

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION:  The end of the year is coming up fast, and pretty soon everyone will be posting their “Best of” lists for 2016. We thought we’d get started early by asking about favorite BOOKS and favorite MOVIES (after all, both involve writing and both are all about stories). 

JME5670V2smCROPJamie Wallace: I’m not ready to choose a definitive favorite book for the year, but I can name a FEW favorites: My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrick Backman, The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill, and Born a Crime by Trevor Noah.

As for movies … I’m not even 100% sure which movies I managed to catch this year, but I did love Swiss Army Man with Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame;  the Harry Potter spinoff, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them; and I have to admit that I also enjoyed Suicide Squad.

I still have SO many 2016 book and movie releases to catch up on, though … LOTS to read and watch! (I can’t wait!)

Deborah headshot

Deborah Lee Luskin: I hardly ever watch TV or go to the movies, but this has been a banner month for both: I watched The Crown (Netflix), which made me feel sorry for the royals – not something I ever thought would happen. The series makes it quite clear that the monarch has little power, even over her personal life, which is filled with private heartache that no number of fabulous dresses can compensate for.

At the movies, I just saw Arrival, which I thought was stunning – and I thought I was allergic to sci-fi! But the lead is Louise Banks, an academic linguist who can function outside the Ivory Tower, under pressure, in ordinary clothes, and is female! SPOILER ALERT! And there’s a great twist to the usual invasion of the aliens: they come to help humanity, not destroy it. Most intriguing of all, however, is that this narrative is told without any connection to chronology. Are there flashbacks or flash forwards? I’m still not sure, but I’m surely intrigued.

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon: My favorite book of the year (so far!) is Love Warrior: A Memoir, by Glennon Doyle Melton. I admire her honesty and her humor. As far as movies, I’ve only seen a few, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching Bad Moms on my computer in a hotel room one night when I was at a review course. It was a great laugh break!

LL HeadshotLee Laughlin: There is no way I could pick a favorite book, I can however pick the book that has the most impact on my well being, Dan Harris’s 10% Happier. It’s about his efforts to begin a meditation practice. It’s at turns honest, poignant and funny.  It has also been instrumental in my beginning a meditation practice. I’m up to 10 minutes!

Movies. Hmmmm, I think I saw a few in 2016. The only one that comes to mind that was actually released in 2016 was Finding Dory, loved it. I also saw The Big Short and Walk in the Woods with my mother-in-law while she was recovering from a broken hip. They were both great movies.

Friday Fun – Gifts for Writers

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION:  

With the holidays coming up, you know that people are out there buying presents. There’s nothing wrong with presents, in fact I love getting them, but I’m at the point in my life where I don’t really need anything. I’d rather get something that’s thoughtful and that I can use as opposed to something that just sits and looks at me. (I’m talking about you large clay chicken.)

I recently participated in the reddit Secret Santa event and after a few messages back and forth, my Secret Santa, knowing that I was a writer sent me the following items:

  • A Moleskin notebook – because I told him I carry a notebook everywhere
  • An incredible Gel pen – because ball point pens create too  much drag for my hand
  • Pen/pencil grips – for the days my hands ache
  • A chicken USB drive – because I use my laptop to compose and my desk computer to edit.
  • Walking by Thoreau – because he knew I was writing about my walking trip and that I plan more.

How perfect was all that?

It got me thinking.

As writers, what would *you* like to get as gifts?  Let’s all create a list that we can share with others.

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Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon: I really like Wendy’s list, especially the Moleskine notebook! As a writer, you can never have too many notebooks/journals/yellow pads/post-it notes! I also think a 5-year journal is a great gift for any writer. I’m almost done with my first one and I love looking back over the past 5 years. Each entry is only a paragraph, so it’s not too overwhelming to thumb through–unlike my Morning Pages journal, which is definitely a task for a long winter’s night curled up by the fire.

LL Headshot

 Lee Laughlin: Whooo boy. My greatest challenge is time. I am a writer who works better without the interruptions of day-to-day life to distract me. The perfect gift for me would be a weekend (or even a day) at a space with a desk, and a nice view. Other suggestions:

  • Pens, I like FriXion & Ink Joys
  • Notebooks – This is Midori Notebook is my current favorite
  • Literature and Latte’s Scrivener App is amazing, but it does need a good user manual so I recommend Scrivener for Dummies by Gwen Hernandez.
  • A Kindle – I know some like paperbooks, but my Kindle is one of my prized possessions.
  • A membership to their genre’s professional organization (i.e. Romance Writer’s of America or Sisters in Crime).

dsc_3083Julie Hennrikus: Time would be a great gift for a writer. Time where she is forced to write. Aside from that, wonderful writing books (like Bird by Bird, or On Writing, or Plot Perfect). A notebook. Scrivener.

Back to the time thing. The need for writing time is real, so if you can offer help with childcare, or offer a place for a retreat, or give her a gift card for a local coffeeshop where she can write for hours. Those are great gifts. Really great.

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson:  Journals, books, pens, notecards, coffee, post-it pads of various colors, plaque with inspirational saying on it, word magnets for fridge, waterproof writing board and pen for shower, gift cards where any of the above can be purchased.

Or, this can about cover it:

christmaslist

Deborah headshotDeborah Lee Luskin: Lee & Julie’s ideas for how to give the writer in your life time are tops. Also, encouragement, especially if there’s a writer in your life who is not yet published and/or scared to make the commitment to the page. If you have a friend/loved one who says s/he wants to write, believing in them is the best thing you can do. Faith, Encouragement and Support.

Friday Fun: Goals Met? Goals Missed? How did you do in 2016?

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION:  If you set writing goals at the beginning of 2016, have you met them and/or missed them? And now what?

wendy-shotWendy E.N. Thomas 

In 2016 I had wanted to get a manuscript done – completed from top to bottom. Not a NaNoWriMo one but one that was planned, thoughtful, and that followed a storyline, an arc. One that I could then shop around to agents and publishers.

Then my mother got sick and I spent two months shuttling between her in Connecticut and my family in New Hampshire.

Then my mother died.

Then I went on a New Hampshire border-to-border walk with my son.

Then I ran into some health problems.

Then the election happened.

Then it seemed that with everything going on, the world has finally fallen apart.

But guess what? In the spare hours (and sometimes minutes) that I could carve out of my daily schedule, I ended up writing a manuscript. It wasn’t the one I thought I was going to write, but it turned out to be the one that was important for me to write.

I have a full manuscript of my 220 mile 16-day walk with my son and the lessons we learned along the way.

Am I Super Woman for getting this done?  Not at all, normal-as-they-come-Wendy – glad to meet you.

But I did state my intent and even in the midst of chaos I set the time aside to work on it because it was so very important to me. Writing also grounded me and kept me on balance – it has kept me sane this past year. Add to that a burning desire to succeed and I ended up making my 2016 goal.

Yeah I know – it surprised the heck out of me as well.

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson: I purposely focus on my writing business and got a lot of new writing through that this year – so in that regard I met the goal of new clients and a certain income level even before December arrived. Several happy dances during the year to celebrate various milestones for those goals!

I’ve gotten back to my fiction writing, which was a goal, but I haven’t (yet) republished 2 novellas. I started NaNoWriMo this year and got a few words on the page — but didn’t hit the 50,000-word goal. However, I do have a fabulous story idea that has legs and so it’s a new goal to finish the first run-through in December (sort of doing NaNo a month later than planned).

I never seem to hit the exact goals I set out to do, but I end up with many things I hadn’t imagined and they are just as, or more, sweet than the goals I imagined.