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Monday, August 20, 2012

Queen of Joy and Awesomeness

For the last three days I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the "Writing Retreat of Joy and Awesomeness" with Ruth, Peggy, Jeigh, Suzi (Jeigh's mom), Kim, Sandy, and last, most definitely not least, the retreat coordinator extraordinaire, Katie. This was just a group of writing friends/bloggers who decided to get away from our families and focus on writing for three days in Park City. Let me tell you, it was freakin' fantastic! We had way too much fun, ate way too much food, stayed up way too late, spent way too much time in the lukewarm tub (aka hot tub), and learned way too much about one another. And I also wrote more in three days than I have in six months.  Alas, we have no photos to adorn this post because the only pictures I took I promised not to post (people in pajamas, and glasses, and no showers, etc.) and the other pictures are completely inappropriate for your gentle, uncorrupted eyes.

While we were there we held writing sprints where we would take 30-45 minutes and all of us would just write like crazy. It was really fun to look around and see between six and eight people sitting in the room, each with a laptop, most with headphones in, just typing away like crazy. We don't have any photos of the sprints because none of us wanted to sacrifice the word count to take the time to take a picture. The winner of each sprint (in word count) won a prize. I don't mean to brag but I won every sprint. Oh, wait, I did mean to brag. What really did it for me was just letting go of my inner editor and letting my outer competitor take over. I am painfully competitive and I really, really wanted to win. Most of the time when I write I take forever because I want to make sure everything is perfect. These sprints allowed me to just get my story written and then I can go back and perfect it later. I really needed to learn that skill.

At the end of the weekend we were to crown the Queen of Joy and Awesomeness. This title was for the person who wrote the most over the weekend. We had an awesome prize pack for the winner, including a tiara (seen below), blingy earrings and bracelet to match the tiara, a bedazzled t-shirt (also seen below), glittery eye shadow, royal chocolate, and flowers that the maintenance people gave us (long story).






As of the night prior to the end of competition I was about 600 words behind the leader. So I stayed up super late to get in the lead before our final sprint of the competition. And I came out as the winner. I had my coronation ceremony after the completion and my daughter loves all my prizes. In three days I wrote 16017 words! Crazy, right? Before I left my WIP was at 8889 words and I now have 24906 words. I am so happy. I feel like I can finally get this story told. I came back motivated, revitalized and ready to go. I also made some friendships that will last a lifetime! I was truly amazed by the skill that each of these ladies possesses.

If any of you ever have the opportunity to attend a writing retreat I would not hesitate at all. It was the best thing I could have ever done for my writing.



Saturday, August 11, 2012

Random Ramblings

I am super tired. I didn't sleep at all last night and it is now 1:30am tonight so excuse anything that may not make sense (which will likely be this whole post). I'm also going to bullet point this because I'm too tired to form paragraphs and my thoughts are not cohesive at all.

  • I was watching the Olympics (shocking, I know) and became fascinated by rhythmic gymnastics. It is kind of crazy cool. I know I couldn't do it because I don't even get it. However, I was thinking while watching it how many people do you think got the tickets not knowing what rhythmic gymnastics really is? Like they just saw gymnastics and were all excited about what great seats they got. And then they showed up and saw what was happening and they were like, "what the...?"
  • The decathlon is insane. As if mastering one event isn't hard enough these people decide they need to master 10 different events. They all looked so tired by the final event.
  • I don't think Ina Garten and I would get along in real life. Her food looks amazing but she seems sort of pretentious. I don't think she would appreciate how often I serve our meals out of the pots I cooked them in (and often still on the stove). I also don't think she would appreciate how often our meals include the words "Mac 'n" in the title. 
  • I saw a commercial for Arctic Circle stating that it is "huckleberry days" or month or something. They had all kinds of huckleberry stuff including a shake. What is a huckleberry? What does it taste like? Anyone?
  • I like milk shakes a lot and now I want one. I haven't been feeling well and when I don't feel well I eat crappy food. I love junk food when I am sick. And milk shakes are great because I don't even have to chew them.
Most important thought - I am super excited for my first year attending WriteOnCon.com. What a great idea - a writing conference you can attend from home. Check it out by following the link or clicking the widget over there -->.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Olympic Gold

Just like everybody else in the world I have been enjoying the Olympics tremendously. If crying while watching the Olympics could be an Olympic event I would have many, many gold medals. It is so amazing to watch dreams coming true right in front of my very eyes (albeit through a camera lens). Watching the parents as their children excel is crazy. There are two things that have come to mind as I have watched hours upon hours of Olympic sports.

1 - It is astonishing to me how the Olympics suddenly make people so judgemental. We are all so amazed at the talent and skill possessed by all these athletes until they mess up. Then suddenly we are saying things like how much they suck or we could do better than that. Or is that only my family? It is easy for me to be sitting on my couch snacking and berating an Olympian for failing (although really I am usually crying for them) but I am not the one that has spent my whole life training for this event. I haven't spent hours a day for the last 15 years training and then not being rewarded for that training. I can't even imagine the heartache that they must feel. However, getting to the Olympics is amazing! They have all beat out so many amazing athletes just to get there in the first place. That is more than billions of people have been able to do. That should be enough.

So this made me think of how often we do this to authors too. I have read so many reviews by people that think that the author should have solved a love triangle differently (hello Edward-Bella-Jacob or Gale-Katniss-Peeta), or finished a conflict differently or blah, blah, blah. The point is that we aren't the ones who have spent hours every day for years developing these characters. Now that I have become serious about writing I truly understand that a writer loves their characters and they know their characters much better than we ever could hope to know them. We may not agree with the way the author did things but they are the ones that wrote the book, not us. It is not our decision. They are the ones who suffered rejection before getting published. If it fails, it is not our heartache, it is theirs. This is why I have made a personal decision to never leave a negative review of a book online (Goodreads, Amazon, my blog, etc.). I may tell friends and family to avoid a certain book but I will never publicly criticize an author's work.

2 - I always wanted to compete in the Olympics. My problem - I am not skilled in any Olympic sport. I'm thinking of training in Badminton for 2016. Or growing between 6 inches and a foot and training really hard in volleyball. But that really is never going to happen. However, over the last few months I have realized that I can possibly succeed at another dream of mine - writing.

I always loved writing while growing up but I never believed that I could really do anything with it. Then I got married and had kids and REALLY thought that I couldn't do anything with it. But I still had these stories floating around in my head. Sometimes I would write out the beginnings and give up and others I wouldn't even start. Then a while ago I found out that my sister-in-law was writing a book. I was so excited and I thought maybe I should start writing too. I didn't start right away. Then I went to my first writing conference and I was totally inspired. I don't even have to grow 6 inches to write a book. I just need to work hard. I really still don't know if I can ever be a published author but that is not my goal right now. I don't want to ever question whether or not I could have been published. I can't be published if I don't write the book. Just like I could never be an Olympian because I never trained in a sport. I couldn't just say "I'm going to be in the Olympics someday" and then not ever do anything about it. I can't say "I'm going to be a published author" and then not put any work in. What do I think will be published? My grocery lists?  For now, I'm training. I'm writing. I'm not focusing on the gold, I'm focusing on doing my best just to be an Olympic contender. I'm writing the best book I can write at this time, but even more importantly, I'm writing.