One Year Anniversary…Or Close to It Haha: Reflections and Lessons

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“Number One Candle Shows One Year Anniversary or Birthday” by StuartMiles: Credit: freerangestock.com

I can’t believe it has been almost a year since I launched this blog!! How time flies!

I want to take a moment to thank you all who have checked out, shared and took the time out of your busy schedules to read my blog.

So what would you like to see me do next here? I am open to suggestions!

Blogging was something I’d never thought I’d do for a number of reasons: what people might say, the stories I share, my faith, etc. I do wish this blog got more comments, but hopefully as I improve my skills that can make things interesting.

I have some things I still need to work on such as trying to do posts ahead of time so they can post on their own opposed to manually doing it myself, maybe share some of my works-in-progress and not just talking about articles that catch my eye from various magazines and stuff.

So what do you wanna see? Let me know and may The Writer’s Soul continue to shine!

Breakdown to Breakthrough: Writing, Indie Bookstore Day and Turning to Faith

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The tree in my front yard 

As the month of April wraps up, the flowers are beginning to bloom. I woke up this morning to see the tree in my front yard blossom to life with pink! I always liked spring for this reason: new beginnings, the winter thaw and the end of hard periods in life.

Today is Independent Bookstore Day. Falling on the last Saturday of April, indie bookstores around the country are celebrating with readings, parties, discounts, exclusive items for sale and so much more. My final two years of college were spent in indie bookstores: perusing their shelves, finding books that I would come to love and a sanctuary from the craziness of college life. If I didn’t have so many books, I would be at one of them today. I am forever grateful for these bookstores for what they do.

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Here are the books I’ve found at Indie Bookstores

Can’t forget the notebooks too: a tool every writer needs! (Pardon the lighting)

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This week was both a breakdown, and a breakthrough. My biggest frustration of late has been not writing for four months. The last thing written was a short story back in December. I have been writing posts on here of course, but it’s not the same. Writing should bring you joy, not misery.

Other things in my life also culminated in my breakdown a few nights ago. On my knees by my bed crying to God, wanting to scream but couldn’t so I didn’t wake up my parents. Tears and everything.

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“Pens” by Bradley Strong; Image taken from freerangestock.com

But I am reminded of something regarding breakdowns: they lead to a breakthrough. Two days before, it was around eight at night. Having completed my unpaid internship work for the day, nothing on TV, talking with a friend on Twitter and watching my favorite musician’s latest Facebook Live, I found myself opening a Word document.

I started typing. 500 words to be exact.

I wanted to cry. I thanked God twice. I was writing again.

I didn’t stop there either. The next two days, I was at my desk, typing. It was random, didn’t make sense, some of it was fanfiction.

But I was finally getting a habit in motion. 500 words a day, no more or less. Three or four times a week I will sit down at my desk at 8 p.m., writing 500 words. Being a fast typist, it doesn’t even take me an hour! Sometimes less than a half hour.

For now, I’m just establishing my writing time, no exact project in mind. But after maybe a few weeks, I will start one.

Never stop writing. We all have those dark periods where we can’t think of ANYTHING. I even signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo this year to try and get the juices going. But it didn’t.

It wasn’t until I showed up, as many writers and bloggers say, that the writing came. Smoothly, quickly and happily.

If you were/are in a similar dark period like I was, please don’t stop writing. Give yourself time to read a good book and focus on other interests. I truly believe the writing NEVER leaves you.

It’s always there, waiting for you to arrive.

This entry was posted on April 29, 2017. 1 Comment

End of Lent: Reflections and Doubts

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“Desert glow” by Chance Agrella; Credit: Image from freerangestock.com

Lent is now over and Easter is also over.

So how did I do with giving up Twitter?

…I did great. In fact, it was quite refreshing not having to stare at my phone, scrolling through my timeline for things I might have missed. Not caring about fandom trends or everyone’s opinions from politics and celebrities to everything-in-between.

But there was one thing missing.

I wasn’t writing.

My prior post was pretty grim and depressing because I wondered if I was truly a writer, or just telling people I was when I am really a fraud or joke. It should be easier because of places like Kobo, Amazon, Apple, Smashwords, NOOK Press and so on where you can publish an eBook. Blogging was also something the greats of old didn’t have.

As I write this…I wonder how can I inspire others as a writer…when I’m not making the time to do the work.

It has been almost a year since I graduated from college…and I feel like a failure. I actually woke up crying in the middle of the night last week feeling that way: about my life, no job, my faith, my passion, my dreams…an utter embarrassment, failure and screw-up.

Without getting personal, I am known for caring more for others than myself. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because one should not only care for themselves. But, it can become a bad thing if you neglect the things that make you happy.

If you neglect yourself.

Artists, scientists, politicians and the like. With everything we all care for and love…we struggle. We have those difficult days, weeks, months or even years feeling we have failed. That we are not where we’re supposed to be in our lives.

Stuck.

I will never be a perfect writer, nor a perfect Christian. I will continue to make mistakes and have regrets in my life. I did lose a couple followers for checking out from Twitter like I did. I didn’t do things I wanted to do. I did things I shouldn’t have done.

When does the moment come when you finally stop and decide to take charge of your life?

When does one sit down to write..and find their strength to embrace their passion again?

 

 

 

Some Thoughts on a Rainy Day: Am I Good Enough or Just Kidding Myself

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Titled “Rain pattern on a window” or “rainpattern5”; by Gareth James Foreman: Credit: freerangestock.com

Sometimes, rainy days give you time to reflect on things. You watch the drops slide down your living room windows as you sit in your quiet house. You hear the rain patter against the roof. Meanwhile, traffic moves without a care in the world as people go about their afternoons.

That feeling of comfort I had discussed last week is gone. Already.

Am I good enough as a writer? Or have I just been kidding myself all of these years so my ego wouldn’t get hurt?

I heard back from a literary magazine I had submitted a short story to months ago. For some reason, the rejection hurt. Saying my story “was not a right fit” for their magazine. A part of me, I confess, wanted to track them down on social media and ask why.

Not a right fit?

Then what is a right fit?

With another magazine, that time it was for an unpaid editor position…I found the people they chose had more experience than me. That stung too, and in fact, I did tweet at them saying about not giving those with less experience a chance.

Maybe that wasn’t a good idea, but at the time that’s how I felt. It’s been like that with the job search too with applying for the writing jobs that I did. Just not a right fit, or enough experience, etc. Plus, you don’t know why you get told no.

I have felt lately when I finally go back to church, I hear the “j” word? Aka job. I might snap. AKA tell them to stop asking because it’s getting on my nerves.

It has!

I recently left a writer’s group online, too, because I felt I wasn’t acknowledged. When I made the decision to leave, one person seemed to really care. That hurt. I took it personally when the truth is there are A TON of people in this group.

I do have some chips on my shoulder, online and off. Maybe that’s why here too people don’t comment. I have been grateful for the views through LinkedIn and elsewhere…but that’s all it is.

Some writer I turned out to be.

God is Here

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“Time to Pray Indicates Prays Divinity and Spiritual” by StuartMiles: Credit: freerangestock.com

 

This will be personal. For those of you who follow this blog, you know that I am a Christian and believe in God. That my faith plays a role in my life. That I want to publish Christian Romance novels one day.

I have been a selfish, spiteful woman for a number of months now. I have felt entitled, prideful and bitter. I was angry and didn’t speak to God for months.

Earlier this week, I had a phone interview. A few times I’ve mentioned struggling with the job search ever since graduating from college in 2016.

Today, I heard back.

I share this because I did something different. I prayed and said to God no matter what happens, I will trust You. I woke up this morning in a grumpy mood and I wasn’t sure why. Sometimes, but not often, I have a feeling. Some call it women’s intuition, some a gut feeling and others whatever they will. I just had a feeling deep down that I did not get the job.

I was right.

Was I frustrated? Yes. Was I disappointed? Yeah, definitely. Was I sad?

No. Instead, I was relieved. I know it’s difficult to explain but when I found myself crying, it was because I had received confirmation that God was still here in my life. I calmed down reading, out loud, in my bedroom prayers from this book I found at Barnes and Noble a couple weeks ago. It’s called The Right Prayers for Every Need. I began flipping through the topics before bed the past couple of nights, reading one or two out loud. I started this past Sunday actually when I woke up looking like an absolute nightmare with dark circles under my eyes, my hair an absolute mess…and feeling depleted. Defeated. Worn out. Tired.

Just done.

That’s when I started going through the prayer book. I began to feel differently with each one I read: prayers when dealing with disappointment, feeling frustrated or overwhelmed and experiencing sorrow.

For those who read my post reflecting on 2016, you know I was not in a good place then either. Angrier than I am now. Stubborner. Entitled.

This week, those feelings began to disappear. I entrusted my will to God and let Him lead the way…and what happened today confirmed He has heard me.

I’m not going to lie to you. When things don’t go our way, whether it’d be with relationships, a book that doesn’t do well, not winning a writing contest, a change of plans, financial issues coming up when all goes well and not leaving fast enough and so on, it’s easy to blame others and ourselves. It’s easier, I think, to blame God whether it’d be the petty things to the very serious. I am guilty of that, doubts and all. Even reaching a point last year and earlier this year questioning my faith and wondering if God really cared…or existed at all.

I have no clue where my life will go and, frankly, since finishing college I’ve had no idea. Even with planning, hoping, and doing I still don’t know.

All I can do is take things a day at a time.

Keep writing and be you.

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“Burning candles on black background” by Jack Moreh: Credit: freerangestock.com

 

 

Learning from the Masters: The MasterClass Experience and the Next Writing Teacher

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“Illustration of vintage style red pencils over rough background” by Jack Moneh. Credit: freerangestock.com

This is a post I have been meaning to write for a while. I wanted to wait until I finished the course itself before reflecting on my experience. I love learning and one should never stop learning and trying new things.

in 2015, an online educational platform for people of all skill levels, whether interested, beginner or even expert came to be called MasterClass. For the affordable price of $90, you have lifetime access to courses you sign up for: the lessons, assignments, videos. You can even take your time with the course altogether. You learn from the great masters of professions you are passionate for or want to learn more about: learn singing from Christina Aguilera, filmmaking from Werner Herzog, cooking from Gordon Ramsey, film scoring from Hans Zimmer.

Or even writing, from James Patterson.

After seeing an article from Parade in my Sunday paper when the online courses were just coming to fruition, I decided to check it out. Since I haven’t written in a while, I thought Mr. Patterson’s course would be good inspiration for me.

It was that and so much more. With each lesson, I took notes; learning from the great James Patterson about writer’s block, the story of how he came to be a writer, how to create great first lines for your novel, writing dialogue, the power of outlines, how to get published and so, so much more. By the time I finished the last lesson a few weeks ago, I felt fulfilled. I gained even more understanding about the publishing process, finding myself relating to an author who struggled through the same issues with writing as me and made it. The assignments helped me tap in to my creativity  again and find it still there. Strong as it always seems to be when I finally sit down and write for a while. Going through the 22 lessons took much longer than I planned, but each time I watched a lesson and listened to Mr. Patterson speak, I felt good every single time. I had gained perspective. I saw what it was truly like to be a writer. I will definitely go through the lessons again.

I had learned so much, and I thank James Patterson for that.

I plan to, hopefully down the road, take the film scoring course taught by Hans Zimmer. Plus, MasterClass is always finding new professions and people. Just recently, Steve Martin was added to teach comedy. Other courses coming soon include Shonda Rhimes teaching how to write for television, Frank Gehry for architecture and design and Annie Leibovitz for photography. It’s worth checking out! You never know what you might learn!

The new writing teacher in my life is a book called Writing with Quiet Hands by Paula Munier. This is another writing book I got from the Writer’s Digest online shop.

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Credit: Amazon.com

I just started it this afternoon and so far…it’s the book I’ve been looking for. Not just talking about inspiration, but the craft for writing. I’ve begun to realize this is what’s missing for me and why I might have been struggling. I’ve also received a clearer picture of what I need to do with my own manuscript once it’s ready to be shopped around to agents, editors and publishers. It’s too early to go into full detail about the book since I just finished chapter one, but if this is any good indication: this book will change my life, with my writing and with myself. I will let you know once I finish how this book went. I’m also thinking about checking out writing plays further in reading The Art and Craft of Playwrighting by Jeffery Hatcher. I found that book in a used bookstore during college.

 

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Credit: Amazon.com

Either way, I need to stop learning and go do it for myself, or I can do both and see where it goes.

The learning continues.

 

The Writer’s Dreams: New Domain, So Far So Good and More

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Writing is important, written or typed

Every time I sit at my desk, I look up at the shelf above me, seeing the numerous books I have loved, read and collected over the years. Books that have influenced where I am today and ones that have yet to be opened…hoping one day I will see my own book in a bookstore.

Before I go on, you might have noticed I changed my domain name to kristinriverswriter.com. This is to give my blog a more professional, serious approach to my work. Everything from the prior domain is here and accounted for!

I was inspired to do this change from a podcast called Write Now, run by writer and Forbes Contributor Sarah Werner. I found a post in my inbox one morning about her latest episode and bookmarked it for later use. I finally listened to the episode last night, which was about personal branding. I found the podcast inspiring, humorous, encouraging and comforting. One of Sarah’s tips was about social media and blogging; when she talked about the domain name for her website, I decided my own blog needed a little tweak.Other recent podcast episodes include Introvert and Extrovert Writers (which I plan to listen to), How Important is Networking for Writers and Should I Use a Pen Name?, to name a few. She also has a podcast called Coffee Break where she interviews fellow writers. It’s worth checking out!

Here’s the link!

I also have an update on giving up Twitter for Lent that I wrote about last week. It is going GREAT. SUCH a great decision and it’s really refreshing to not check my Twitter feed on my phone so much. It’s also been nice to not care about what’s trending, reading the sometimes outrageous things people say and getting annoyed with things I don’t like. The break has also given me more time to sit down with more books! Now I just need to better incorporate some writing time…

Anyway, I have been thinking a lot. I decided to unsubscribe from a writing community, I checked out a local writers group and I’ve decided to go to a local book festival coming up in April. For those of you who live in Massachusetts, it’s called Easthampton BookFest and was launched back in 2015. Really nice to see more local book festivals popping up! Go to one if you can!

Heh, I’m all over the place tonight huh? I guess that’s what thinking does to you. Your mind goes off on so many tangents that you lose track of what you were thinking about.

…trying to find work really makes writing harder. You need an income and, of course, need to make the time. I have been losing myself, my faith and dreams for quite a while now. But slowly, I am waking up and thinking critically about my decisions, what I read, listen to and want to focus on. These ideas truly are all a part of growing up.

I do have an internship that I’ve started this week, and it has brought me joy. I really believe that’s the secret when things are so bad in life. You are looking for that joy, feeling it and making sure you’re doing what you love in any aspect that you can.

I am only 23, trying to find my heart in writing again, figuring out and fearing where my life may go next and been frustrated with the way things have been. I don’t deny that I could have made different choices: spent more time writing, not holding in my feelings, being honest with myself, distancing myself from things that only aggravate me and not motivate me. I can only do my best…

…and pray I will find my way.

My dreams, writing or otherwise, aren’t dead yet. They still have some life left…and I pray that your dreams, fellow writers, do too.