Start Your Writing Engines: The HubPages Apprenticeship Program Is About To Begin!

A few weeks ago, I posted about being accepted into the HubPages Apprenticeship Program which begins (for me) June 1st. This is soo exciting, and I'm even looking forward to the strict writing schedule I will have to adopt--you gotta start sometime! The six month program will allow me to really get on a writing roll and build an online audience, all while making a few bucks on the side. How freakin cool is that??

If I stick to my (semi) schedule of two blog posts a week per blog (I have two), and two Hubs a week (there's a minimum requirement of 8 per month) that leaves one day a week with no writing obligations--provided I work any freelance assignments in with the other days. WHEW! That's good, I'll take it! This doesn't even include the writing I do for myself; journaling, short story writing, long emails, etc. Which, by the way, I have been working on a short story that I believe I will be making into a collection...I think. More on that to come...

I am now nine months into my writing career, and the speed at which I have been progressing is absolutely astonishing. As one of my writing mentors says, I'm on the 'fast track' to success! Well, that's good, because I ain't gettin' any younger, and I've put off my dreams for far too long. Be careful what you wish for my friends, because you will most certainly get it, so you must be prepared. Happy writing!

Edited to add: This post marks the 10th post in a single month for the first time ever. Hurrah! Another tiny success!

Learning Valuable Lessons with Honesty and Professionalism

I have just learned a very, very valuable lesson, and I'd like to share it with you. Recently, I have been working with a content site that has, so far, not been very fulfilling. Granted, writing assignments are only given about once a month-that I have experienced-so we're not talking about a great deal of work here. Nevertheless, in my household, every dollar counts. Besides, it's good for experience and my writing resume. This month's work was assigned, and it was weighing heavily on my mind because the assignments are not ones I enjoy, and I work waaay too hard at making them something they don't need to be. So.

The Universe has really interesting ways of bringing you 'tests' and the things you ask for regardless if you're really ready for them or not; I received an email from an administrator of the company basically asking if I was still interested in working with them. WELL.. I took this opportunity (and this was, indeed, an opportunity) to carefully explain that while I was very interested in continuing with the company, there seemed to be a lot of miscommunications and confusion surrounding each batch of assignments (and there were), which I found to be problematic and not up to the level of professionalism I have become accustomed to. I took the opportunity to further explain that given my level of experience and expertise, the pay rate was far below what I felt was acceptable to continue on with them, and that I would like to be released from the obligation of the current assignments, and any future assignments of this particular kind. Then I told them I wished them continued success and thanked them for the opportunity to write for them in the first place.

Feeling really good about this, I went about my business, looking through the writing job boards for something to replace this work. I came across an article contest in which I could enter as many times as I wanted with not only cash prizes being awarded, but a place on the editorial team as the grand prize. Say no more! I promptly set to work, entering four articles I had ready for placement. THEN...

I receive another email from the admin explaining that, after viewing my profile, I was indeed qualified for a higher level of assignments, with a much higher level of pay. Also, thanking me for my patience while they were in the midst of creating a new assignment process, to eliminate further issues. DING DING DING DING DING!

Lesson learned: be professional, honest and forthcoming with situations that are causing a problem in your creative process or obstructing your path to success. If you're like me and have a hard time saying "NO", this method of action really comes in handy, and chances are everything will work out in your favor in ways you may never have imagined. I never dreamed they would respond with an offer of better quality, higher paying work that was much better suited to my talents. Cool huh?

Happy writing!

Once Again, Neil Gaiman Inspires...

OK, today's post is short but sweet. I'm cheating a little bit by making Neil the focus of this post, instead of transcribing the first draft of my newest short story: 1982: Desia & Ian. I think it will be one vignette of a collection of vignettes in fiction form. But more about that later...

Today I had to share this video of Neil Gaiman addressing the graduating class from the University of Arts. He is always, always so damn inspiring, and I for one really needed this today. I am ever amazed at his honesty, and willingness to give of himself to those of us just starting out, or well on our way on the paths of our dreams. If ever I become a well known author, I promise right here and now, to emulate him in this way.

As always, thank you Neil, for sharing your gifts with us, and helping us share ours with the world. Enjoy.


Building Writing Material: Inspiration from Short Stories...Horror Fiction 1970's Style

So I've decided to start writing short stories, anywhere from 100 words to 3000. I sort of like the idea of getting the ball rolling with 100 word short stories; little bursts of 'plot and circumstance'. I have begun to see flashes of storylines in my head, which is a good sign. I have yet to write anything down, but it's only a matter of time. Lately, I have been on a big 70's horror kick (big surprise) with the books I've been reading--as if you couldn't tell by my reading list this month! Jack Oleck in particular, who adapted horror anthology films into paperback stories like Tales From the Crypt and The Vault of Horror, has gotten me especially jazzed. And no wonder, just look at the great covers...

Something else has caught my attention; a Writer's Market specifically for novels and short story submissions! This is a brilliant idea, especially if you have seen the size of the regular Writer's Market--it's HUGE and HEAVY. This narrows the channels quite a bit, and makes the submission process a little less daunting and tiny bit less scary. I hope. It's the next reference book on my list to acquire, so I'll let you know.

Remember, I am a late bloomer, and have spent years of my life not believing in myself, or allowing myself to act on becoming a writer. So these might seem like inconsequential, and even trivial matters to more accomplished writers. But the purpose of this blog is to offer helpful information and process to anyone else out there who has wanted to take the leap and get serious about writing. You can do it, just like I can do it. There are a lot of blogs, forums, web sites and even writer's groups that can scare off a fledgling writer in a split second, and my purpose here is to offer a safe place for those of us who are building confidence, building portfolios and building material at our own pace. Now, off I go...into short story land. Wish me luck!

Journaling: An Important Part of Any Writing Process

Having been an avid journal-er my whole life, I can't even remember a time when I didn't write in a journal. Perhaps when I was very young I called it a diary--actually my diary's name was Daphne because it sounded so exotic. But there was always a notebook or two around, filled with whatever nonsense a young girl of 10 or 12 finds important in her world. Sometimes I even typed my journal pages on my Mom's electric typewriter, because for some reason, I always loved the physical action of typing (don't ask me why). Too bad I no longer have those early journals, it would be really fascinating to read them now...

Fast forward to my adult life, and all of my journals have to be really special looking. That's journals, as in plural, because I have to have at least a few around to inspire me when the mood to write hits. I have journals strictly for poetry, for special quotes and sayings I come across, for oracle readings, a personal journal (or two), a dream workbook and a writing-for-work journal. Whew! I guess I didn't realize just how many different books it takes to satisfy my needs!

Which brings me to the point of today's post. I have previously talked about the benefits of writing-by-hand, and how the sheer physical act of it can really help; get the creative juices flowing, soothe your soul on a bad day, and get those sudden inspired thoughts down quickly. There are just so many reasons to get your face out of a computer screen and enjoy the process of handwriting in a little notebook that speaks to you and your creative self. It makes the act of writing in it so much more enjoyable if the colors, pictures, inspirational sayings or design of a special book speak to you in some way, and help transfer you to 'that place' in your mind where you can effortlessly write about anything you choose for a few precious moments, or a few satisfying hours.

Just don't make the mistake of destroying your journals when they have been filled, forgotten, or otherwise made 'useless' to you. Pack them away if you must. But someday, I promise you, there will come a time when what you had written there will be of the utmost importance, whether you realize it or not. Happy writing!

Making Executive Decisions: Know When To Walk Away

I just made a ballsy move. I just declined a writing assignment from CopyPress. You see, because I have made the firm decision to write 'something big' for myself, I just don't have the inclination to write a boring product description for $8. While it's true that, in my household, every dollar counts, the $8 that I won't receive until the middle of next month won't make one whit of a difference. I just didn't see it as being a valuable way to spend my time, creativity and talent. Not that I'm riding a high horse about my skills--nothing could be further from the truth--but what I am exercising here is my choice for value. (Remember, I'm a German/Gemini with an unending need for efficiency).

The other thing is, I will spend so many hours on this uninteresting piece of writing, fighting against my natural instincts to make it something it doesn't need to be. There just isn't any reason why I need to subject myself to that, when I could be writing an informative blog post, completing a writing exercise, making notes on the very long and involved dream I had last night, working on my class syllabus, or sorting through old journals looking for ideas.

Recently, I posted about being accepted into the HubPages Apprenticeship Program. This is a valuable endeavor because not only will they be paying me to write (albeit little, it's steady monthly income I can count on), it's like taking writing classes for free. Complete with peer feedback, guidance from our team's leader, and a rigorous writing schedule. I am so looking forward to it, and the possibilities it can bring. Besides, many people have been 'discovered' or have been offered incredible opportunities because of their Hubs, so the more of my writing I put out there, the better the chance I have of something great happening because of it.

I feel really good about this decision, which is all that matters. When something is weighing on me like a black cloud over my head, I'm getting better at saying 'No' or getting through it with a positive outlook and attitude...this is serving me very well so far.

Preparing For Success with Prep Work: Mental & Physical Part 2

Today, I woke up from a lengthy dream and wrote down as much of it as I could remember. It wasn't that the dream was particularly startling, amazing, scary or profound, it was simply the act of writing it down Just. Never. Know. I also think it's time to dig out the old journals from lifetimes ago (I could just kick myself for burning a few of them) and go through them with a writer's critical eye and mind. The whole point is to begin fleshing out ideas, storylines, concepts and other whatnots for some serious writing.

One of the things I hate most is yard work. I'm not talking about tending a flourishing organic garden, or pampering prized collections of roses, I mean pulling mammoth weeds, digging up hard, uneven dirt, transplanting trees, laborious removal of ancient mystery bushes just to make things 'presentable'. I have never had a green thumb, I'm not a sun worshiper, and I abhor the heat. BUT, what this does is give me time to listen to audiobooks to occupy my mind and feed my creativity, while my body gets a workout and the yard gets a little more respectable each day.

What does yard work have to do with writing, you say? Good question, and I'll get to that in a minute. First of all, it effectively fulfills my needs as a German/Gemini to efficiently multitask. See, in my mind, pulling weeds is redundant and a waste of time because they're just going to grow back in a week. Now I know there are preventative measures that can be taken, and we'll be employing them, but you know what I mean. So while doing these menial tasks, I am listening to Stephen King's On Writing (yes, I know it's expensive, that's why I have it in book form too) so that even though I'm not physically working on writing, I'm mentally working on writing.

And just as a newly completed piece of writing gives a writer a wonderful sense of accomplishment, so does a newly well-kept looking yard, and an exercised body and mind. Think about it!

Preparing For Success with Prep Work: Mental & Physical

While I haven't done much writing in the last couple of days, I've sure been paving the way with 'prep work'. Prep in the physical and mental senses; I finally ditched my dinosaur of a desktop computer setup, for my trusty laptop simply connected to my printer. This means not only can I utilize my writing space more efficiently, with less clutter, this computer is at least ten times faster than my old one for taking care of my online business (selling records) so I work much smarter, and not harder. Check.

Mentally, I have been spending a lot more time reading (as well I should be!) by buying some used books on writing for 'work' and for 'play'. This weekend alone, I picked up my first Neil Gaiman book; Smoke & Mirrors, my first Tabitha King (Stephen's wife, of course) book; Small World, and my first Clive Barker books, including the one that started the Hellraiser series (one of my favorite horror franchises). Whew! I've got my work cut out for me there, and I'm lovin' every minute of it. Neil has yet again sparked inspiration by giving me the idea to begin my foray into fiction writing with 100-word-stories. That is a brilliant way to begin, for me at least, because there isn't much room for building characters and plots, you simply tell the story--but leave out all the extraneous bits. Clever, challenging and totally up my alley. Check.

Further mental prep work I have been doing is preparing myself for the idea of really getting my writing out there by delving into the Writer's Market a bit more seriously. Admittedly, I am overwhelmed to say the least at the sheer number of magazines out there for submitting stories to. Although, I have to whittle down the genres (once I figure out which one I'll be writing in) which will (hopefully) make the submission process a little less daunting.

Somehow in all of this, I have no fear of rejection, which is an absolute first for me. It is fascinating to experience this particular part of my writing career and path free of fear, self doubt, worry (which is really just another face of fear) or hesitancy. I hear no little voice in my head telling me I'm not good enough or that I couldn't possibly write anything worthy. Wow. Also a first. Which tells me I am on the right path, for possibly the first time in my life. Wait, scratch that, everything in my life has happened exactly as it should have, good bad and ugly. That's a hard one to swallow sometimes, but I'm beginning to understand and fully embrace it.

Acceptance Into the Hub Pages Apprenticeship Program

Wow. I just received notice that I have been accepted into the Hub Pages Apprenticeship Program beginning in June! What an exciting, new writing endeavor! Maybe this is just the thing I need to spark ideas for a book, since I've come to realize that my energies need to shift slightly, to focus on a bigger picture for my writing career.

The program states that at least 8 but no more than 24 Hubs are required each month, and the first month will include specific titles for our Hubs based on each student's interest and experience. That's brilliant, because like so many other writers, I struggle with what to write about frequently. This should really help get the wheels turning, and help me get a firm writing schedule/routine in place. Stephen King says that he writes everyday, in the morning from roughly 8am to Noon. I wonder if I could adopt that schedule...the old roll-out-of-bed-at-10am-me says, 'NO WAY' but I am not about to put parameters on myself when it comes to writing, I've already been doing that my whole life.

Building a writing portfolio I can be proud of is a goal I have set for myself from the beginning of this journey. Completing the Hub Pages Apprenticeship program will be an excellent catalyst for doing exactly that, and I look forward to every minute of it. I promise to document the adventure, for anyone who may be interested in applying to the program, or if you just want to see what Hub Pages is all about. As I've said before, it's a great place for writers of any kind to publish pieces of their choosing, and hone their writing skills while building an audience and maybe make a few bucks in the process. Not bad, eh? Stay tuned and happy writing!

Testing My Faith & More Inspirations from Neil Gaiman and Stephen King

As another week begins with yet another round of applications for freelance writing gigs, I can't help but feel a little self-doubt and uncertainty about my choice of writing endeavors. Not that I am for one instant thinking I should choose another career path--no way, uh uh, no how--but the direction and placement of my energies feels like it just may be a little off...

Something keeps telling me that I should be writing a book. "But I haven't a clue what that book should be about!" I scream inside my head. I really don't. As I've said several times before, I'm not a fiction writer, I don't know how to make stuff up, I only know how to tell the truth. Well, be that as it may, the always-inspirational Neil Gaiman and Stephen King have once again come to my rescue by way of the posted interview on Neil's Blog. It matters not one whit if you are not a fan of either writer's books, what is important here is what they have to say about the craft of writing. Particularly when Stephen King himself states (in Danse Macabre) that if you only write 300 words a day for a year, you will have a novel at the end of the year. Wow. See how things can be vastly different when you look at them from a different perspective? 300 words is practically nothing, I write that many times over just in a blog post! However, I do understand the importance, skill and determination of coming up with the right 300 words.

Well, you know what? The description of the class I'm teaching in the Fall is due within 3 days time, and that's a pretty important 300 words (240 actually). This is the snippet that will be printed in the class schedule, telling prospective students what the class is about. And since the key here is to have as many students enroll as possible, I'd better make those words count! Gulp.

So today's food for thought is this; do not let your personal faith in your endeavors wane when things don't seem to be going anywhere. Look at your goals from a slightly different perspective to see if another pathway opens up that you may have not previously been aware of. More than likely you'll find that these little paths are always there, we sometimes just need a special lantern to see them.