Archive for the on writing Category

A quick update…

Posted in current events, on writing, Personal Notes with tags , , , on November 2, 2014 by Sarah aka Sarjé

I haven’t posted any new poetry for awhile. I spent the last few weeks editing and compiling poems for a first book prize. I’m not holding my breath, but look at it as a worthwhile effort in working to be a better writer. The process made me aware of a lot that I should work on, but I gained a little more confidence, too–just putting that envelope into the mail gives me hope in one day being a professional poet.

Now, it’s November, which of course, means NaNoWriMo. I’ll be pantsing, entirely–I have only a slight concept. But I’ve done this annual challenge for so long, it’d feel wrong not to try again, this year.

I’ll try to get back to new poems in December. Thanks for reading.



Merry Christmas

Posted in current events, on writing, Personal Notes on December 26, 2013 by Sarah aka Sarjé

Christmas is basically over, but I thought it’d be nice to throw a quick update here. I’ve been hard at work in the grocery store. I spent some of November working on NaNoWriMo, but didn’t win this year…still, it was a lot of fun.

To be honest, there aren’t many new developments in my life, but I’m happy with the general progress I’ve made in 2013, and am looking forward to next year. I think 2014 is going to be a good year for more folks, but I’m a wishful thinker.

I’ve met some great people this year, and am very happy to have made new acquaintances and friends. Everyone in this world has value and is important, but I think I’ve met some who will be especially important to me both present and future. And that’s a nice feeling.

More poetry and stories are coming, but first I’m going to learn how to use my new DSLR. 🙂

Happy Christmas and Merry New Year. 🙂

Embarking on Camp NaNoWriMo 2013

Posted in on writing, Personal Notes with tags , , , , , on June 29, 2013 by Sarah aka Sarjé

In July, I’m going to be working on another month-long writing program, NaNoWriMo’s writing camp, which bills itself as “an idyllic writer’s retreat smack-dab in the middle of your crazy life.” To be honest, life hasn’t been any much crazier than usual. Just warmer, and with more power outtages.

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) was created with the purpose of folks writing novels of 50,000 words or more, in a month. I’ve participated in the November program for a number of years, winning only once–2011. This year, I’m rebelling.

My plan is to write 50,000 words (although, the wordcount goal is flexible at Camp–and you can change it up through July 25, when “validation” begins), but not of a novel.

Instead, I’m planning to clean house. To sweep away the detritus of my mind’s rooms, focusing on short stories, poems, and script ideas. Ideally, at least one story will stand out, and lead to a better plan for November, when I’ll work on a novel again.

I’m also considering trying some children’s literature, for which I may also sketch out illustration ideas.

So, I’m using Camp as a clearinghouse. Some of the work will indubitably be posted here. I’m also gratified to have found a group of likeminded folks working on a wide variety of projects, all of whom are interested in critique and future publication.

For one week in July, I’ll also be at a real-life camp, living in a tent and writing in between sessions of gorging myself on Danish food, dancing, and singing my lungs out. Thankfully, there’s also internet access. 🙂

This is gonna be fun. If you’d like to join me, visit

Poem 13 / Csángo Menyhárt

Posted in on writing, Personal Notes, poetry with tags , , , , , on April 15, 2013 by Sarah aka Sarjé

Well, we’ve reached the halfway point of this month’s excursion into poetics. I’ve managed to eke out 12 poems in 14 days. I’m pretty pleased, and hopeful that I’ll keep up my pace. It’s just really good to work on the habit of writing daily, again.

So, today, I’m going with Miz Quickly’s suggestion, another musically-inspired poem. My favorite part of this prompt is: “Give yourself a break. Relax.” Always a necessary reminder for me! Hope you’ll listen to the song while you read. 🙂

Csángo Menyhárt

Slip into this space of dancing rhythm.

Strip away your layers of apprehension,

like a burlesque dancer  in a smoky room,

toes bouncing, hips swinging.

Spindly fingers–spinning plates

and heads, stroking the tarot deck,

the guitar string–

plucking out the future from a set

of minor chords and major arcana.

Developing a Writer’s Life (NWPR #3)

Posted in on writing, Personal Notes with tags , , , , on April 23, 2011 by Sarah aka Sarjé

Today, I want to talk about writers’ habits.  I’ve read a lot of advice that suggests that you need to schedule regular time, every day, to write.  This is aided if you have a specific location that is just for writing.

For me, this is not bad advice, but it is nigh impossible to follow, or at least, it has been.  I am not a person who lives by schedules.  Ask anyone I was in college with, and they’ll tell you I was often late, or missing altogether, from studies.  I stayed up entirely too late at night.  I was your quintessentially poor student.  How did this happen?  Probably a lot of it stems from some insecurities about success.  My college days were a “one-eighty” from primary and secondary school (ah yes, we’re going back a ways now).  In high school, I was top of my class and involved in tons of activities.  I wasn’t always completely on-top of my homework, but I generally got the job done, and graduated with honors.

So what happened?  Yes, I have asked myself this question quite often.  Maybe I burned out early.  I certainly rested on my laurels.  I didn’t graduate from university, and I don’t see a way back, now (although, I haven’t given up the goal of completing my degree).  Needless to say, employment opportunities are a bit sparse for a person in my position.

In more recent years, I’ve worked to develop a “more” scheduled lifestyle, at least endeavoring to sleep at appropriate times.  I try to notice when things need doing, and do them.  But my overarching problem exists.  And I’ve repeatedly come to the conclusion that this problem is — drum-roll please — I don’t finish what I start.  This quality is so ingrained, that I haven’t “finished” solving the problem (actually, I suppose this is more of what Al Watt would call “dilemma.”).  I doubt there is any cut-and-dried answer, but the writer’s advice is a solid start.

Create a schedule, and define a location to work in.  And stick to it, and do it.  I’ve been under the impression that it takes at least three weeks of concerted effort to build a new habit.  I haven’t made it this far yet.  “Real life” interrupts, and I’m not quite strong enough to fight back for my writer’s life.  But I’m working on it.

Maybe I won’t manage to write the way so many advise.  Maybe I’ll have to make up my own rules as I go along (as, I suspect, most of us have to do).  Developing a writer’s life runs parallel to developing a novel’s story.  I’m revising my own personal narration, in order to become the author I want to be.  I can no longer rest on my laurels, nor can I wallow in my defeats.  I can only move forward with this day, and strive to live a writer’s life long enough that it becomes the habit and the way.

We all need to grow (NWPR #2)

Posted in on writing, Personal Notes with tags , , , , on April 15, 2011 by Sarah aka Sarjé

I’ve been doing a lot of reading.  Nearly finished The Breakout Novelist (though, not on the exercises, there are still a lot of those to work through), and now have started to make inroads on Alan Watt’s The 90-Day Novel, which takes a decidedly different approach.

Watt focuses on the intuitive process of writing, and advises to begin as though you haven’t before.  This is good advice, except that I do have a semblance of an outline.  But that’s okay.  I can ignore it for now, while I’m working through Watt’s book.  I do, of course, want to have a draft done in 90 days, which is why I got it.  His exercises (so far) seem to all instruct that you “write for five minutes.”  Does anyone time themselves?  This seems counter-intuitive.  So, I’ve tried to allow myself to just work for as long as I feel I need to on each exercise.

Where Donald Maass focuses on creating micro-tension, and causing as much trouble as possible for your protagonists (yes, drama is important, but not every book needs to have a character die, does it?), Alan Watt focuses instead on dilemma.  Obviously, conflict is at the root of all stories, and necessarily needs to be throughout novels, often in many forms.  Both of these gentlemen are focused on the same issue, cast in slightly different lights.  I don’t take issue with either approach, but they are certainly described and geared for different types of writers.  I’m not certain where I fall within these “types,” and plan to just keep taking as much advice as I can get, to pick and choose what works to get my pen to the paper.

The element I have focused on is growth, as a (pardon the pun) root of much of the story’s conflict and tension.  Namely, my protagonist’s growth, and the elements that hinder or help it.  Fairly straightforward.  Perhaps the reason is the season, as the world around me reawakens from its winter slumber and begins to green up again.

We stopped at the garden center today and stocked up on seeds for this year’s harvest.  It’s all very exciting — and quickly becomes overwhelming.  Myriad potential varieties of every crop you want to grow are available.  It becomes hard to choose what to commit to.  This is a pretty natural dilemma, eh?  Maybe the most natural of all.  I’m not sure where all of it is headed, but I’m figuring out the source from which my novel’s conflict stems (sorry again).

Writing is a growth-promoting process.  I’m still just sowing the seeds, and trying to propagate everything my imagination can come up with.  Sure, there’ll be dandelions and crab-grasses and probably a handful of other pests in the garden of this novel.  But let them flourish, too, for now.  The time for weeding is after you already have a bumper crop.  One piece of advice everyone seems to agree on is — don’t wear your writer’s hat and your editor’s hat at the same time…your head will overheat.

So, let the creativity bloom!

Clean(er) room, tidier thoughts — novel-writing progress report

Posted in on writing, Personal Notes with tags , , , , on April 10, 2011 by Sarah aka Sarjé

I tidied up my room last night, and now have space to walk, pace even, if I find the need to. I still have a long way to go, but I’ve at least reached a level of somewhat ordered chaos. And go figure, tidying up has seemed to help with writing.

Today, after reading (and taking notes on) several more chapters of The Breakout Novelist (my newest acquisition to my ever-expanding library of books about writing and publishing), I set about writing. I had intended to do some character and setting outlines, but instead I got a line. When the stagnation and isolation of rural Kansas finally became unbearable, Alexandra Connolly vowed to leave. And then I got another line after that. And a whole bunch more followed.

What I ended up with was a scene that I hadn’t expected to show up, but I like it. I don’t love it, and I don’t even know if it’s going to resemble anything like the final product, but it’s a start. I’m so thankful to have finally gotten an actual scene, with settings and details and dialogue, onto the page.

When I started this novel, five years ago, it was a completely different story (go figure, people change, and so do their characters). When I wrote approximately 20,000 words, last November, I was largely journalling about the process, because I couldn’t seem to find the words for the action in my mind. I truly felt like the whole process was going to be “pulling teeth,” but I realize that once again, it just wasn’t quite the right time. Now it is.

I intend to write these “progress reports” as a way to avoid running across that problem again. These posts serve as a delineation between the novel and the process of writing the novel. By separating the two, hopefully I’ll keep hacking out the story, instead of getting trapped in the internal dialogue of what it is to be a writer.

Also, I’m on the lookout for a critique group.  Suggestions are very, very welcome.

So, onward!