Tag Archives: writing

Words, and where to put them

It looks like I haven’t been writing much, but I have. Just not here. Three months ago I finished the first draft of my novel, based on the Jade Dragon posts some of you may have read on my blog. (If you haven’t, I’d be tickled if you took a peek. The book, though, is a bazillion times better. Or it will be, if I do say so myself.)

I’ve had my mind in that space for so long that I barely know how to use words for anything else. Poems? Can’t finish one. Essays? I’ve dabbled. But now that I’ve pulled my head out of the sand – Loess is a desert world – I’ve been thinking of entering a competition or two, just to shake up my brain a bit. The trouble is finding a good one.

Have you ever entered a competition where you send in your submission only to receive, weeks or months later, a form letter saying you didn’t win? Or you have to pay for feedback on top of the entry fee? Or you receive feedback that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the story you wrote? It’s happened to me, more than once. It’s frustrating and demoralizing and makes me not want to write at all.

While I’m looking for something for me, here’s a little something for you. A place to put your words.

Yeah write is running its own super challenge this summer for creative nonfiction (with fiction to follow in the fall), and we’re bringing yeah write’s signature care and attention to each and every entry. There’s a $25 entry fee ($20 if you register by the end of the day today, June 30!) and that doesn’t just get you into the competition – it gets you 100% personalized, detailed feedback on what did and did not work in your submission, whether or not you move on to the next round. Judging is blind – this means the judges* don’t know who wrote which piece – and you don’t need a blog to participate.

Oh! And there are cash prizes for first, second and third place finishers. Right now, the first-place winner is guaranteed $100, and with every new participant, the prizes get bigger.

To sum up: you’ve got until midnight US Eastern time on June 30 to take advantage of our early-bird pricing of only $20. After that it’s still a pretty darn affordable $25 until July 6. The first round will start on the 8th and I hope to see you there.

*Full disclosure: I’m not a judge. I’m one of the people making sure the judges don’t know who you are. 🙂


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Gravity

I have a habit of falling into things. It’s not just physics – though gravity and I have a very tense relationship. And it’s more than just luck. Twenty years ago I signed up for what I thought was an “Intro to Music” class. It turned out to be a beginning composition course, and I loved it. That’s how I fell into a music degree. Thirteen years ago I moved to Portland, Oregon, sight unseen, and fell in love with the city – the culture, the climate, everything. I’ve got no plans to leave. One August morning I hopped on my bicycle, anxious to get to work early for an important meeting, and fell into a daily routine that even the drummingest downpour doesn’t interrupt. Falling into things is something I do well.

About two years ago I fell into writing. An old college friend inspired me to submit a little piece for an online writing prompt. It’s not that I had never written before – I’d been writing on and off for most of my life. I even wrote two novels for the National Novel Writing Month, which have never seen the light of day. All that writing, and nobody had ever read any of it. I spent about two weeks fiddling with the look of my brand-spanking new WordPress site before I actually put virtual pen to paper, but I finally posted something at Write On Edge, and I was hooked.

There are hundreds of homes for aspiring writers on the internet. Eventually I settled in at the Trifecta Writing Challenge. Something about the very specific parameters of the challenge – 33-333 words, using the third definition of a given word – really appealed to me. Like writing counterpoint or twelve-tone compositions, the challenge was in finding ways to be creative within certain boundaries. When the editors introduced a 33-word micro-fiction challenge, I knew I’d found my sweet spot.

Trifecta closed its doors at the end of March. There were some really great writers in the Trifecta community, and innumerous wonderful people. Some of them are regulars here as well. Others (like me) are more recent converts to the yeah write way. One writer in particular always blew me away – not only with her beautiful imagery and fantastic wordsmithing, but with the uncanny way she always beat me to the punch when commenting on other people’s writing. If I had a nickel for every time I typed, “What Suzanne said…” – well, I’d be drinking more lattes.

Suzanne, of course, is the managing editor of the speakeasy challenge, and though we’ve never met in person, I swear that we’re two peas in a pod. When she approached me about joining the yeah write team, I felt that familiar rush of weightlessness. It was happening again – I was falling into yet another thing. It was exhilarating. And terrifying. Let me explain: I’m not a blogger. Hell, I’m barely a writer, some weeks. But I seem to have an affinity for super short fiction and making every word matter, and I’m hoping that counts for something. Because I really want to matter here.

I have had more fun in the last two weeks than I thought possible. I’ve learned that I enjoy helping others get it right, whether that’s finding the “so what” in a personal essay, suggesting a different perspective in a short story, or giving instructions on pasting in the correct badge. I’ve learned that not everyone follows directions, but I can usually gently nudge them without too many bruised feelings.

The gargleblaster wasn’t my idea, but it is my baby. I have very strong feelings about what works for a micro writing piece and what doesn’t. I am also an unabashed cheerleader, and I can’t help but applaud anyone who dares to put their words out for anyone to read. I’ve said it before: writing is hard.

I’m still new. I’m feeling my way, and relying a lot on the patience of folks who have been doing this a long time. But I’m starting to think I’ve fallen into another one of those great life-changing things.