Writing to prompt: Amanda Socci called me a Brainiac!


So, first things first:

Amanda is participating, with Nina Amir, in the NaNoWriMo alternative, Write Non-Fiction in November, or WNFIN 🙂

Here’s the lovely pic:

Write Non-Fiction in November

Write Non-Fiction in November

As part of the lead up and promotion, Amanda has gone plum prompt crazy!  She’s even giving us prompt-interviews!  I think it’s a fabulous idea (that’s why she’s the Creative Idea Gal).  For those of you who may not have perused my pages, it’ll give us a chance to get better acquainted. Plus some of the answers won’t be found on my pages, so bonus info!

Here’s what Amanda posted on Wednesday.

Here are my answers 🙂

(1) Does the title of your blog, Writerly Goodness, have a special significance?

Writerly Goodness is my creative alter ego.  In my day job, I work in the corporate learning and development world, which is related to, but distinct from, the creative work I do in the evenings and on weekends.  I need to compartmentalize and separate my two working worlds and so, like a pseudo-super hero, I “change costumes” and transform into Writerly Goodness, which is also what I hope to produce 😉  I address this in a post: Do you dress for success?

I’m also an introvert.  Big time.  It’s another part of my daily transformation.  I have to put on the extrovert for my work, especially when I deliver training, and just need to hole up when I get home.  Fortunately, the interwebz give me the virtual distance to engage all my online friends and family without distress.  I haven’t written a lot about introversion yet, but I’ve just finished Susan Cain’s Quiet, and will begin to share some of the insights I’ve gained in the reading.

I joke in my welcome message that I might have a multiple personality disorder, which is more appropriately called a dissociative identity disorder, but while that is not true, I am host to other mental illnesses, most notably depression.  I actually talk about mental illness quite a bit, what experiences have contributed to my condition, how mental illness intersects with creativity, and what I’ve learned in the process of managing my depression.

Finally, Writerly Goodness has a decidedly canine aspect to her: loyal, patient, dedicated.  I can tell her to “fetch, girl!” and she will inevitably return with the words I need 🙂  So maybe WG is the embodiment of my muse?  Oooh!  Hadn’t thought of that before.  Thanks, Amanda!

(2) You write frequently about Caturday Quickies. What does that mean? What is Caturday?

Caturday emerged from a web site called I can has cheezburger?  It’s one of the original sites where LOLcats can be found (cute pictures and animated gifs of cats, or kittehs, as they’re called, with humorous captions).  The site’s mascot is a gorgeous Russian Blue with a hopeful look on his (or her) fuzzy face and with the caption that eventually became the name of the site.

Instead of Saturday, the day became Caturday.

I used to visit “I can has” every day for my feline fix, and eventually their sister-site, I has a hotdog (which gave rise to Sundog instead of Sunday in the same way) for my puppeh pick-me-up.  Eventually, I couldn’t keep up with the number of new posts in a day and realized it was more of an addiction than an entertainment.  Now, I see enough of the shared memes on social media to keep me happy.

I’m an animal lover and I used to own serve two cats. Right now, I have my dog, Nuala, but more on her in a bit.

(3) Are you inspired by your training coordinator job? Do you write about your job?

My day job intersects interestingly with my creative work.  As a writer, I always think stories should educate as well as entertain, and the things that I learn as a trainer contribute to my stories.

Also, my writing translates into instructional design.  I’m a fan of story-based instructional design (surprise, surprise) and I’ve been able to help write a course that won me and my team a Silver Award of Excellence in 2012.

More recently, my grammar Nazi nature has been able to come out and play as I’ve taught five sessions of Business Writing Made Easy to participants in two different business lines.  The second last one was a training-for-trainers version of the course, where I was introducing colleagues to the training material so they, in turn, could deliver it to other staff members.

As a training coordinator, I’m constantly writing reports, training plans, proposals, and briefing notes.  It’s completely different work than writing a story, poetry, or a novel, and my background in rhetoric (BA, Laurentian University 1995, cum laude) has come into play.

I have a category devoted to my learning and development (L&D) side: the Learning Mutt.  As you’ve been so kind as to ask me about that, I’ll write to that point more directly later on.

(4) Why do you call yourself a writing geek? Why do you call yourself a keener?

I’m a writing geek for many reasons, only a few of which I’ll mention here (don’t want to bore y’all).

I love words.  In my university years, I took several courses on the history of the language, old English, middle English, Shakespeare, and 18th Century literature (the days of the first dictionaries).  I love etymology.  I love the evolution of the language—English is such a mutt language, we’ve stolen from or been contributed to by nearly every language at one time or another.

I love the physicality of language, where the sounds are produced.  It’s different for each stage/evolution of English: back in the throat, up in the nose, forward in the mouth, up front through the teeth.

I love accents and dialects.  I love pidgin languages.

You can smell the smoke when I start thinking about words 🙂

I adore the writing process, mine and others.  Nothing makes me more #furiouslyhappy than to read the posts of other writers who share their workspaces, work habits, revision strategies, etc.  I’ve been glued to Elissa Field’s blog while she’s been writing about her revisions.  Endlessly fascinating.

I also love learning about writing.  I’m constantly doing it, even though I have an MA in English literature and creative writing.  I read craft books (and everything else I can get my hands on—I’m a book addict) and I read like a writer, looking for clues, analyzing structure, teasing out the reasoning behind creative choices.

I’ve got a subscription to Writer’s Digest Tutorials and have recently started taking courses, from Dan Blank’s Platform Building course, to a selection of Wana International webinars.

I follow Grammar Girl.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

(5) How does being an experiential learner affect your writing?

This is going to be a short one: I learn by doing.

I write, therefore I am.

The only way to improve is to write, and to write every day.

(6) You mentioned that learning and writing go hand in hand. Can you describe how you tie both into one on your blog?

I think I addressed this in my answer to question 3, above, but here’s a little more about it:

When I was back in university, I was amazed at how everything I was learning, from astronomy and biology, through philosophy and psychology, to English, music, and art, intersected in bizarre and wonderful ways.

I find this to be true with my work, as well.

Besides, if I’m going to spend most of my waking hours doing something that is not writing, it better feed my muse in some way.  I just stay open to the possibilities.  Mental popcorn.  Wheee!

(7) You list several cultural references on your blog (Ukrainian Christmas, Algonkian conference, etc.). What inspires you to write about those cultures?

I think the reference to Ukranian Christmas was probably about a friend of mine, who celebrates it, or in my discussion about how I developed my religions/spirituality for my fantasy novel.

The Algonkian Conference is actually a pitch conference that has nothing to do with the Algonquin people.  Though I may have referred to the Ojibwe and Cree nations in my discussion of how I invented some of my languages for my work in progress.

In general, I’m very open to religion and spirituality.  I was raised Christian (Lutheran, specifically) but now identify as agnostic with pagan leanings.  I don’t blog about it too much, though, because I think that both religion and spirituality are very personal things, and while I admire the devout of faith, I don’t think that anyone has the right to tell anyone else what to believe.  That is between the individual and the God of their understanding.

I think I’ll shut up now, before I offend anyone :0

(8) What is the learning mutt side of your brain? How does that impact your learning or writing?

The learning mutt is my day job personality, but it’s more than that.  It’s the part of me that watches the Discovery Channel, follows Bad Astronomer Phil Plait, and was enthralled by Commander Hadfield’s social media campaign from space.  It’s the part of me that reads.  It’s the part of me that takes courses and webinars.  It’s the part of me that wants more, more, MOAR knowledge, regardless of what it might be.

I’m a pop culture junkie, a trivia queen (maybe princess), and creative connections pop out at me from everywhere (mental popcorn mention above).

I don’t have an eidetic memory, or speed-read, or anything, but my brain just wants to fill itself with everything out there, so it is very much like a mutt: a little bit of everything goes into it.

I hope most of it stays there too, another reason I try to keep learning 😉

(9) Does your pup-child Nuala inspire your work? Have you considered writing a non-fiction book about dogs?

All of my dependant quadrupeds, feline or canine, have held special places in my heart.  My husband and I are childless-by-choice, and in a way our pets fill the place of children in our lives.

I also believe that dogs, in particular, are here to teach us how to love unconditionally.

I haven’t thought about writing a non-fiction book about dogs yet.  I don’t think I have enough experiences to fill up a book right now.

I do have an idea for a middle grade book that features a dog as its protagonist, though.  It’s kind of like a Desmond the Dog Detective meets Watership Down, with maybe just a dash of Animal Farm.

Yup, that’s the kind of thing I think up 😛

(10) Your curriculum vitae is impressive! It is also a non-traditional addition to a blog. Has posting your c.v. helped you get noticed, get writing work, be featured on other blogs?

Thank you, but actually, it hasn’t resulted in any of that good stuff.  Nobody’s even “liked” it yet.

When I started my blog, I didn’t have any books that I could promote, so I thought the CV would speak for my experience as a writer.  It was key to my application for professional membership to the Canadian Authors Association.  Maybe when I start querying, agents will start looking me up?  One can only hope 😀

I’ve since added a page to feature the two anthologies including my poetry of which the publisher still has copies to sell, but that hasn’t really resulted in much action either.  At least the publisher hasn’t let me know that he’s run out of copies, or that my page has, in any way, influenced the poetry-reading public 😉

This must be tempered with the fact that a poetry best-seller in Canada means 500 copies sold.  NeoVerse accomplished that goal, if nothing else.

Thanks for giving me this opportunity, Amanda!  This was fun!

What do the rest of you think?  Did you enjoy finding out more about me, or did it leave you cold?  Regardless, I’d love to hear from you.

And please do visit/participate in WNFIN if you are so moved.  That’s Write Non-Fiction in November with Amanda Socci and Nina Amir, just in case you forgot 😉  It’s been a while (long post, whew!).

Tomorrow: Review of Dead Air, and sommat about my trip last weekend.

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12 thoughts on “Writing to prompt: Amanda Socci called me a Brainiac!

  1. Great post. I think you hould be given a blog badge award called Introvers Out of the Closet. I’m lik’in your blog. Can’t wait to read more.

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  2. Yay! Talk about deliciously descriptive. Wow, Melanie, you really shot this one out of the park! You managed to answer all of my questions effortlessly yet beautifully. What’s more, you mentioned some unique things that I hadn’t thought of before. Hmmmm.

    Thank you so, so, so, so VERY MUCH for giving a plug to NaNonFiWriMo 2013. I’m incredibly grateful, and I know Nina Amir is, too! Thank you so muchfor taking the time to answer my questions in such a creative way, Melanie. It really has been a great pleasure getting to know more of my brainy Canadian writer friend. 🙂

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    • Aw, thanks Amanda 🙂 It was a great opportunity all around. I got to expose a bit more of my tender underbelly and connect to a few more people. Supporting WNFIN was a no-brainer. Hope you and Nina get a whole tribe on non-fiction writers built up around you. Break a pencil!

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  3. Thanks so much, Melanie, for answering Amanda’s questions. I appreciate the tie in to National Nonfiction Writing Month, aka the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge. Pop on by to also learn a ton from 30 guest bloggers that month.

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