Tag Archive | writers

Thoughts on Creativity

It’s only within the last few years that I’ve been able to think of myself as a creative person. I always thought creative people were the artists, the clothing designers, published authors, the people who can bring things to life just from their mind. Me? I wrote stories that didn’t go anywhere. I made jewelry for a few years, then I scrapbooked for a few years. I knit and crochet, but I use other people’s yarns and other people’s patterns and just replicate them.

But guys, you know what? I AM creative. I write stories that haven’t been written before, about characters I make up. I have three complete manuscripts. Three full-length book-type things. Sure, they haven’t been published. Doesn’t mean they’re not creative. And it doesn’t mean they’re not worthwhile. Maybe those were just the ones I needed to get out before writing The One.

I’m always struggling with self-worth as far as writing goes, swinging from “Yes! I’m a great writer!” to “Who do I think I am, thinking someone else will want to read this?” Because I’ve never published a book, I think I’m not a writer. Well. That’s dumb. And I just have to keep telling myself that. I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I’ve written short stories and novel-length stories and filled a dozen journals and I’ve kept this blog for three years now. I don’t write every day, but I keep coming back to writing. I am a writer.

Wow. It wasn’t until I wrote that, that I realized how true it is. I keep coming back to writing.

With my yarn, I put colors and textures and patterns together. I’m the one who chooses what will go with what. I don’t think I’ve ever used the recommended yarn for any pattern, and I don’t think I’ve ever even made a pattern in the same color(s) as the designer. I take their ideas and put my own spin on them. That IS creative.

And for a while now, I’ve been trying to figure out how to combine the yarn and the writing. I want to write a book where yarn/knitting is a focal point. I’ve tried, and it hasn’t worked yet. But I’m going to keep trying.

I don’t know why, but I am flush with creative energy right now, and it feels awesome. The focus has turned away from knitting and back toward writing, but that’s kind of typical for me. I tend to focus obsessively on one thing for a while, then move on. I’m not done with knitting, not at all! I spent three hours at a football game last night and was delighted to have the time to knit on the baby blanket. But in the evenings, or weekends like this, my brain is gravitating toward writing.

Not just writing, either. I’ve always wished I could draw well, and I always told myself I just couldn’t do it. Then a few days ago I was admiring a selection of drawing books and the husband said, “Why don’t you try it? You never know.” And for some reason, this time I agreed. Why not, indeed. I didn’t have to show anyone if I didn’t want to. I might not be great. But what if I could make pictures that pleased me? That would be pretty cool. So I might be heading to the library to check out some how-tos for beginners (if you have recommendations, please share!) and I’ve got a little sketch pad and a drawing pencil itching to be used. And because it’s uncomfortable and scary for me, I’m going to share my first attempt, a cube copied from a book.

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It’s not great. It’s a first attempt. I don’t think it’s going to come naturally to me the way it does for my kids, or the way writing does to me. I’m not going to be the next big artist, and that’s all right. For me, it’s okay that it’s recognizable, and it was fun.

I guess what I take from all of this is that I’m redefining what success means to me. Success is about the leap, the journey, the effort. And I don’t want to be afraid of success anymore.

Fear and Self-Loathing

Most of us have days when we’re full of those two emotions, am I right? Today is one of those days for me. Besides my life as a mom and wife, I have my passions: my yarn craft, my writing, my proofreading. If I’m not succeeding at those, I feel like I’m failing as a person. Whether that’s right or wrong doesn’t matter. It just is. The brain doesn’t function that way, or at least mine doesn’t. I need to train myself to define “success” more loosely.

So yesterday, you might have seen, I posted about starting a sale on my Etsy shop. I wrote about it here, and I posted a photo on Facebook. I tried to boost the photo but it was rejected, so I tried again with a different photo. Maybe I was obnoxious about it because someone unliked my page yesterday. This morning, I found that I’d lost two more likes. Does it matter? It shouldn’t. It’s not a comment on ME. Except that my knitting IS me, so a rejection of that does feel personal. Thankfully, I also got two new likes (YAY) so that made me feel better. Maybe I should get rid of the Facebook page and just focus on Etsy. I get so caught up in the numbers that I lose focus of what really matters.

Those of you with small crafty businesses, what do you do? Does FB help or hinder you?

Also, rejection just sucks, doesn’t it?

Yesterday, I also handed off my manuscript to a new reader, a former co-worker, and I’m anxious to hear her feedback. What if it’s horrible? I don’t always think it is, but today I do. And soon, I’ll be sending this piece of myself out to agents to critique, and reject.

Yes, rejection sucks. But I guess that’s the risk you take when you put yourself out there, isn’t it? And you just have to keep going to find the reward: those people who truly love what you’re doing and who aren’t shy about saying so. It’s too bad those voices are less frequent and harder to hear/believe.

But here’s the bright spot of my day: I have a potential proofreading client, and as much I love proofreading, I think I need to bump that up in my priorities. I love being that person who helps others shine. So getting a basic website up is on my To Do list, and soon. I’m sure I’ll share it when it’s up!

I’ll close with another highlight. I finished another project last night, a fun slouch hat with some of my newer yarn. I love it, can’t wait to get some better photos so I can list it on Etsy. IMG_4932

I have my knitting, but what about you? How do you cope with rejection, with fear and self-loathing?

I guess I am a writer

Have you ever heard that saying,”If you’re a writer, you must write”? Like, ‘real’ writers feel compelled to write. I do think there’s a little truth to that. For a very long time, I tried to write fiction. I have two completed novels in my file cabinet, but my fiction writing is very sporadic. It’s HARD, you know? A few months ago, I decided that because I didn’t feel called to work on those books, or to write others, I wasn’t a writer. I often get those little “What if” moments, thinking “Oh, that would be a cool story!” But then I don’t do anything with them. Therefore, my self-deprecating brain decided that meant I wasn’t a writer.

But then I had an epiphany: I have this blog. I’ve been writing here for quite a while now. I’ve lost track of how long, but I’m thinking it’s around two years. Before that, I journaled. I was being too limiting: I AM a writer. I do feel compelled to write. I don’t write every day, though I’m trying, but I write often. And even though I started this blog primarily to talk about my knitting, I’ve written about a lot of different things: dogs, depression, loss, grief, parenting, reading, and now writing.

I AM a writer. I may not be a writer of fiction, but I am a writer. The things I am compelled to write are true, they’re stories of me and my experiences, my thoughts, my opinions. Maybe that’s selfish, or egotistical, to think that people would want to read about me. But maybe it’s also helpful to read about real people. I know I enjoy reading other people’s personal stories. They help me learn about myself, feel better about myself. They inspire me and teach me. They help me feel not so alone in this often-hard world. So why couldn’t my stories do the same? It’s a lofty goal, for sure, and I don’t know if I’m there yet. All I know is that this is what compels me to write, this is what comes out easily and with passion, these are the stories that read true.

Years ago, back in the stone age when a writer used manila envelopes, snail mail, and SASEs, I sent my second novel out to agents. I probably queried fifty agents, and I received a LOT of rejection slips. Those were disheartening, of course. But! I received one “Query me later”, one handwritten “Well written but not right for me” and one request for a full. No, I didn’t get an agent, and the book didn’t get published. But given the number of queries agents receive, I consider those responses as small successes. At least three people saw potential in my writing. Not just people, publishing professionals. Why didn’t I keep going, keep pushing with this book? No idea. Laziness, fear, frustration. I also had a young child at the time, so I could have easily gotten distracted. I’ve thought about going back to this book, but again, I haven’t pushed myself. Both my novels were written on old computers and revising them would mean completely re-typing them into my current laptop. Yep, that would be a good opportunity to revise. And I might still. But my current manuscript is where my heart is right now, my little memoir from my retail life. So that’s where I’ll be pushing. The real work begins now, as I move into the realm of query letters and proposals. I have to convince someone that my book matters. What tricks or tips do you have for writing query letters?

Last night, I handed off a freshly printed manuscript to my husband. Then, to distract myself, I started a new hat. It’s a lovely dark emerald green, and it will grow up to be a slouchy hat. IMG_4822

What I Can’t Show You

I’ve got a lot of secret knitting going on. I’ve finished a baby present, but I can’t show you yet. I’m making good progress on my sister’s project bag, but I can’t show you that either. I frogged my light gray mesh scarf and restarted it with fewer stitches and bigger needles, but I don’t have enough knit to make it worth taking a photo. Lots of knitting, but no proof!

What I can share is that I pulled up my memoir manuscript the other day and started reading through it. I was pleasantly surprised: it’s much closer to being “done” than I remembered. I made it about halfway through and was really only making minor changes. The not so pleasant part: now I’m convinced it’s terrible and boring and no one could ever possibly find it interesting. The cycles of writing, right? I think I’ve just reached a point where I need to find an unbiased reader to tell me what’s working and what’s not. So I’ll plow through the second half and figure out where to go from there. All you other writers out there, where/how do you find a good beta reader or critique partner?

Until I figure that out, it’s back to the couch I go with my little big furry friends. I’ll do some proofreading, a bit of knitting. I’ve discovered Gilmore Girls, which I’ve never seen before, and I’m loving it. It’s fabulous knitting TV. The husband’s not a fan, though, so I’ll try to keep it to daytime bingeing. These two don’t complain! IMG_2176