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A Life Less Ordinary

IWSG Writing Update – March 2017

Every first Wednesday of the month, the IWSG (Insecure Writer’s Support Group) encourages writers to share their fears, thoughts, progress, struggles, excitement, encouragement or anything really about their writing.  Since August 2016, the IWSG offers a particular question as a writing prompt for their members. Answering it is optional. This month that question is “Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?”

I have about five completed articles in my archives which have not been published. Some of them are a few years old. I’ve sent them to particular magazines (the ones I wrote the stories for) and either got no reply, or once, a rejection.  I have reworked a couple of them and sent them off on different occasions (you are supposed to wait for a rejection before submitting elsewhere, but more often than not, I receive no answer, so after multiple months, I try again with another magazine). The one time I did hear back, it was to tell me that the story was accepted. I’m signing the contract and providing a bio today, actually. Yay! I still have a few articles left that I need and want to re-submit. It is one of the many time-consuming projects on my long to-do list. 🙂

Last month, I posted a question for the readers of my blog and I want to thank all of you who replied and provided me with insights into creating my memoir. I was at the halfway point of my first draft and quite stuck in regards to a theme and approach. Your answers have made me realize that, while different readers like different topics – no surprise there – most of them enjoy reading about personal anecdotes, exciting adventures, challenges and how to overcome them, intriguing locales and relationship antics, all with a healthy dose of humor and a bunch of other, interesting and deciding topics intertwined. Phew! You have suggested; I will try to deliver. Help!

So far, I feel like I have been writing from a distance. As if I have been looking at myself from above, from an angle, from a different reality or dimension. It appears as if I am not writing about myself, but about somebody I have been watching for a while. There is no real feeling for this person, no emotions. I need to go back into the scenes with her and be able to write deeply, strongly and engaging. I need to truly imagine all these moments again, immerse myself in them, re-live them and then recreate the events and feelings on my screen. It is not so easy.

March 1st (other than my husband’s birthday) will be the real start of 2017 for me. After a chaotic January and February, in which we moved about a lot and I mostly wrote articles, stories and blogs, I can now focus on my bigger goals, start prioritizing my most important projects and make myself accountable again. It doesn’t matter much what I have been doing last month (reading, collecting book ideas and themes, doing memoir exercises from “Your Life as Story” by Tristine Rainer), but what I am planning to do this month, right?

My new office for two months

Now that we are semi-settled again for a couple of months, with the only distractions a sweet dog, a peaceful and pretty environment, a planned family visit and lots of things to see and do in the town of Sebastopol and Sonoma County (Northern California), I will have no problem concentrating. Hmmm… Yep. It all comes down to priorities and getting a handle on distractions. With spring approaching and its beautiful blossoms emerging, at least the view from my temporary window will be a pleasant one. I’ll try not to smell the flowers and focus on my writing, most of the day! 🙂

How are your projects going? Any distractions you’d like to share?


  1. Yeah, good luck not being distracted with that view! Congrats on the acceptance. That is very good news indeed. I’m thrilled for you in that regard and it seems like you’re getting a good sense of what do to with your memoir, even if that means a lot of rewriting and re-examining. Anything that pushes you forward and closer to a draft is a good thing, right?

    • You are right, Ryan, everything helps. The main thing is focus, though… These days a little tough for reasons other than the view. 🙁

  2. Congratulations on your story acceptance! That’s so exciting!

    I would be so distracted with that sort of view, I’d have to place my desk facing the opposite direction. Love the pictures of your pup.

    • Thanks! There is a big screen against the sun in this home office, so that helps. Our current pup we are taking care of is indeed, very cute and sweet. It is nice to have a strong connection with her. We try to stop work around 4pm to take her for a long walk every day. 🙂

  3. My project is going well. At first it seemed like this big huge task and I was wondering if what I was doing even made sense, but as I broke it up into little pieces and discussed it with some others, it started to be something really great.

    • Breaking big projects into pieces is the perfect approach, I think, especially when writing a “daunting” book. Nevertheless, it is still very time-consuming, especially when you try to figure out how long each chapter takes and then, how many chapters you hope to create and then the amount of drafts… Better to take it one day, or one chapter, or one version at a time! 🙂

  4. Congratulations on the rework and acceptance. That’s great news! I thought your comment about writing from a distance was a really interesting one and something to seriously consider. More often than not, I do the same thing but when I’m able to invest more of myself into my writing I find it’s much better . . . and easier to produce.

    Stephanie @ SV CAMBRIA

    • Thanks, Stephanie. Unfortunately, I thought the pay would be a bit better for it, based on other articles I had published with them and other sailing magazines. I agree the writing is better when we feel more involved with it, but sometimes there are these in-explainable barriers that don’t seem to allow this to happen. Maybe it is related to inspiration or distraction or moods… We’ll give it another go next week. 🙂

  5. Dog with ball looks very distracting to me.
    Cool your article was accepted!
    I know another member of the IWSG who wrote a very powerful memoir and I bet she’d be happy to talk to you. Let me know.

    • If you could tell me her name and/or her website/blog address, Alex, that would be great. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and throw the ball. 🙂

  6. I hope you can smell the flowers AND get some work done! A critique partner of mine is writing a memoir, and I feel like I can’t give her good enough feedback, because I don’t know how one should be properly written. But I try.

    • My goal is to write every morning, or work on the book in another way, and smell the flowers late afternoon. Can’t wait for the days to get warmer and the longer daylight hours! 🙂 I think that the best memoirs are written like fiction, where the reader is hooked and interested and wants to keep finding out what happened to the person and her story.

  7. Yay for you on the article! It looks like you got another winner there in terms of dogs. So adorable 🙂 I think Mark is going to be a great month for you in terms of writing. You can do this.

    • This dog is just amazing. She is cute and sweet and detects when we need some extra comfort. I hope March will be good in terms of writing, since it seems to be bad on other levels. 🙁

  8. Congratulations on the article publication! Your dog looks like a great distraction – especially combined with the outdoor views. 🙂
    Hope you have a wonderful March!

    • Thank you and wishing you a productive March, full of achievements. It looks like it will be a few very busy months for you! 🙂

  9. I don’t have your self-discipline, Liesbet. The sun has only to crook it’s little finger and I’m gone 🙂 🙂 Good for you for persisting!

    • My self-discipline could be better as well, Jo. Blue skies lure me outside, but I usually manage to wait until mid-afternoon, when I feel like I “deserve” it and Mark is ready for a dog walk as well. 🙂 Sun and warmth has been rare this winter, though, so the rules have to go overboard whenever the rays strike!

  10. I’m so excited to check out the IWSG when I get a few moments to come up for air. (Busy being unproductive recently) Especially relevant since I have 2 stories that I’ve been thinking about retrieving from the virtual trash bin to see if there is any life worth salvaging.

    I also really appreciate the challenge of making my scenes live. (For me, in order to make my scene breath, I have a bad habit of bringing the reader so close to the character that we all lose focus on what’s important, or drift into exposition).

    Anyway, I’m glad to be following you here, for so many reasons, but one of them is that this will be a good place for me to come to get back on track. (I, like Jo, get easily distracted).

    Keep writing!

    • It sounds like you have a couple of great techniques to draw the reader in, Gabe. I have found that I am extremely good at knowing and talking about what I want for my book, but when it comes to actually putting the engaging and perfect words down on paper, I am very “quiet” and unable.

      I think you would really like the IWSG. They have a great and supportive Facebook page, where you can post any questions or doubts you have and where you can help others out as well. Very civilized and sociable. Check it out; it is free to join.

      Signing up for the monthly IWSG blog posting on their website, will get you to reflect on your writing and participate in the sharing, on top of telling others about your progress, doubts and ideas. This happens on the first Wednesday of every month.

      • Whew. Just signed up for the newsletter. and sent request to join the Facebook page. based on my initial impressions, this group looks like a good place to rekindle dormant writing habits. Thanks so much for the suggestion Liesbet!

        • Well done. I think you will like this group and its attitude and, hopefully, you benefit from it inspirationally as well. 🙂

  11. Congratulations on your story’s acceptance, Liesbet. That is excellent news!!
    Your new house-sit dog is gorgeous!
    Wishing you a ‘distraction-free’ March!

    • Thanks, Donna. Unfortunately, it pays less than half of what I expected based on previous article acceptations. While the house and dog-sit is pretty sweet, March, unfortunately, has not been free of (sad) distractions. More about that on Wednesday.

  12. Congrats on the story! Ahh yes, distractions – the bane of a writer’s existence! I’m forever being pulled away from my keyboard by something interesting outside my window, but I’m still puttering along with my projects. Great photos, by the way!

    • Thanks for the compliment, Traci. I think it is human to be distracted by fun stuff, when less enjoyable projects need attention. That focus is tough sometimes, but everyone has their own tactics to get things done. Making a list sometimes helps for me, although, I tend to make those lists way too long and industrious causing disappointment when only half actually gets done! 🙂

  13. Wow, it looks lovely there! My main distraction has been travel. I’m not complaining at all, but whenever I’m about to get into a routine, I have to up and leave again. It does make focusing on work challenging.

    I’m off to China next week, and then in late April I’ll be in California for StokerCon. Hopefully after that I’ll be grounded for a while, since I have two books launching on May 16–yikes!

    • It is nice here, except for the rain and (relatively) cold temperatures still. 🙁 Are you traveling for work? Book promotion? I checked out the San Francisco Writers’ Conference when we were house sitting nearby that week, but – other than it being sold out completely – it was extremely expensive: $795 for the four days. Do you have to pay out of pocket for these conferences?

  14. Huge congrats LIesbet on getting accepted! 🙂

    • Thanks, Debby. I ought to start writing more articles to actually make some money, instead of puttering about with other projects… 🙂

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