Am I What I Write? (Posted for the IWSG Monthly Blog Hop)

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It’s IWSG Day Again!

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. This month’s question is:

Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?

My Answer … ABSOLUTELY, and it’s always purposeful.

Why? Because I am inseparable from my writing. I believe that’s what “finding your writing voice” truly means, at least what it means for me. Writing is an almost magical combination of intent and imagination, a mental and spiritual place where your life experiences and creativity combine to create something that is uniquely yours.

If you’ve ever entered a contest where you’re given a storyline (or even just a keyword), you know it’s true: one hundred different writers will deliver one hundred distinctly creative entries, each one influenced by his or her own experiences, preferences, and personal characteristics. That’s what makes writing such a beautiful, life-affirming experience. And why I will keep writing until I can no longer hold a pen or use a keyboard.

Writing Inspirational Quote by Jeff Goins
Source: Jeff Goins on Pinterest

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The awesome co-hosts for the October 4 posting of the IWSG are Olga Godim, Chemist Ken, Jennifer Hawes, and Tamara Narayan!

Blog Hop Link:

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About IWSG: The Insecure Writer’s Support Group

PURPOSE:
To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
MISSION STATEMENT:

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group is a home for writers in all stages; from unpublished to bestsellers. Our goal is to offer assistance and guidance. We want to help writers overcome their insecurities, and by offering encouragement we are creating a community of support.

HOW IT BEGAN:

Alex J. Cavanaugh, the founder, noticed a lot of blog posts from writers mentioning their doubts, concerns, and lack of confidence. He also saw the positive replies they received and realized that the writing community offered an abundance of support. Writers want to see other writers succeed, which is how he came up with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. This group would act as a form of therapy, letting writers post about situations where they need encouragement, or to offer words of encouragement to others if they have experience.

On September 7, 2011, Alex launched the monthly blog posting of the IWSG and it has been going strong ever since.

On the first Wednesday of every month we share of thoughts about writing on our blogs. We also have an optional monthly question to assist with member’s posts, which can be found on the Sign-Up page.

 

WHERE WE ARE NOW:

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group has grown since conception. Over 250 people are a part of the blogging community that posts on the first Wednesday of every month, known as IWSG Day.

The group has expanded beyond blogging into other forms. We have a Facebook Group with 3,000+ members. Our free monthly newsletter, which has featured industry experts like Jane Friedman and Sandra Beckwith, has 600+ subscribers.

We offer a free guide for writers: The Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s Guide to Publishing and Beyond. We have an annual anthology contest, and the first book is available now – Parallels: Felix Was Here. The second, Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life, will be released in May, 2017. We even have our own merchandise which include pens, magnets, and T-shirts!

Alex and the nine other administrators are actively pushing the group to greater heights. Nothing is impossible when insecure writers band together.

Thought for the Month: Elements of Surprise in the Life of a Writer

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SURPRISE!

I’m one of those people who doesn’t like surprises — even good ones. However, as with other facts of life, surprises are inescapable; and the majority of them, at least in my experience, are welcome. It’s the fear of the unexpected that repels those of us who ascribe to the myth that we have control over what happens in our lives. We enjoy inflicting the element of surprise on our loved ones (who may not necessarily appreciate them), and we enjoy seeing those surprise wedding proposals on the KissCam at sporting events, but surprises are for other people, primarily those outside our private bubble.

When I saw this month’s optional question, “Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing?” the answer was easy. Every. Single. Day. As a debut author, whose only previous works have been unpublished attempts at fan fiction, the inspiration for my first “serious” work might have been the biggest surprise of all.

After dabbling in a disastrous attempt to co-write an erotic suspense novel with another indie author, I thought I might close up my laptop for good. I’d been burned–badly–by someone I trusted like a sister. My contributions were torn apart and ultimately deemed unworthy by my co-author, and I believed her. I felt like a failure, a fraud, and a fool. The betrayal was the worst kind of surprise–the kind that makes you question your self-worth, or worse, abandon your dreams.

I loved that story–and its principal character–so much, letting it go was like burying a loved one. Later, seeing it retitled and published by my former friend added salt to the wound that burned from the inside out. Then came the second surprise.

As I drifted off to sleep one night, a long-buried incident from my past turned into the story that only I can tell, and Where Angels Sleep began to unfold, like buds on a grapevine after the cruelest of winters. At that moment, as I frantically captured thoughts on paper, the characters came alive and guided my pen. The bitterness of previous experience faded and the surprise of self-discovery took hold.

Every time I’m tempted to give up–when I get blocked, the middle gets muddy, or yesterday’s prose reads like utter crap–I remind myself that this story is mine alone to tell. That the tragedy that inspired it infuses every paragraph, but its happy ending is mine to imagine. I remember the young man–my beloved cousin Paul–to whom the book is dedicated, and I resolve to finish it as a personal tribute to his memory. To devote the time, effort and money it takes to make it the best it can be. To publish it and to love it, even if it never hits a list.

As it turns out, the book’s theme has everything to do with what happens when life spins out of control, and how the right surprise, at the right time, can change our destiny. For a woman who’s not fond of surprises, this amuses me to no end.

Today I took a long walk to consider what to write for this month’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) post. (BTW, It should come as NO surprise to those who know me that I’m an insecure writer!) As I walked, enjoying the first cool, sunny day in weeks, a song from the Where Angels Sleep playlist came to mind. It deals with the memories–and associated feelings–that we bury “down deep in our souls.” To me, this speaks to the essence of authentic writing–the surprise of what emerges when we take ourselves to new depths and explore that which we most fear.

Please listen and enjoy. Think about what unique life experiences have led you to tell your stories. Leave a comment about them, if you please. Then go forth and write your next story.

About the IWSG

Purpose of IWSG: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting:  The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Check out the details and sign up on the IWSG website!

The awesome co-hosts for today’s posts are Tyrean MartinsonTara TylerRaimey Gallant, and Beverly Stowe McClure.