Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, July 28-Aug 3, 2019

And here we are in August! It’s time to change direction and indulge in some informal writerly learnings.

Kathryn Craft: where a writer’s story begins. Laurie Schnebly Campbell asks, where, when, why? Writers in the Storm

K.M. Weiland helps you learn five types of character arc at a glance: the two heroic arcs, part 1 of 2. Helping Writers Become Authors

William R. Leibowitz delves into the challenges of believability in writing science fiction. C. S. Lakin

Allison Winn Scotch is writing in the chaos. Meanwhile, Cathy Yardly is addressing anxiety. Writer Unboxed

How to use and eliminate passive voice. Reedsy

Nathan Bransford explains what it costs to self-publish a book.

Sara Letourneau is identifying themes in poetry. Jeanette the Writer extolls the power of punctuation.  DIY MFA

Jami Gold: do we know what we’re capable of?

Peter Gelfan explains how to craft engaging dialogue exchanges. Writers Helping Writers

How to write a fight scene. Reedsy

Angela Ackerman is depicting characters held back by fear. Then, Oren Ashkenazi teaches authorial endorsement 101. Mythcreants

Robert Lee Brewer explains the difference between a lot and allot (and that alot is NOT a word!). Writer’s Digest

Cecelia Watson recounts the birth of the semi-colon. The Paris Review

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you found something helpful.

Until Thursday, be well, my writerly friends!

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Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Apr 14-20, 2019

Here’s your weekly batch of inspiration and research-y links to get your mental corn popping.

Vivid Maps presents Canada, mapped only in terms of bodies of water. Makes me unaccountably proud of our beautiful country.

Geoff Manaugh says, move over San Andreas, there’s a new, ominous fault line in town, and it’s called the Walker Lane. Wired

SciShow Space looks at how astronomers got that image of a black hole.

 

Angus Chen: parents learn to let their anxious kids face their fears. NPR

Think you can catch up on lost sleep over the weekend? Inverse says, nope.

 

Bret Stetka reveals new strategies to take on the worst cancer—glioblastoma. Scientific American

Douglas Main: why oysters close on the full moon—and more odd lunar effects on animals. National Geographic

I hope you found something to feed your creative factory 🙂

Until next tipsday, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

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Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Mar 31-Apr 6, 2019

It’s time to get your mental corn popping 🙂

Chad Frischmann profiles the young minds solving climate change. BBC

Camille Bromley wonders, could a woman walk around the world today? National Geographic

Kara Wada covers the miserable history of seasonal allergies, from ancient China and Greece, to today. Quartzy

Shayla Love investigates the power of the nocebo effect. Vice

Sarah Barnes shares the work of Kate Allen, an artist with anxiety who illustrates lessons on mental health. My Modern Met

Kati Morton begins a new series on burnout with part 1: the history.

 

Adam Rasmi: new research suggests you should do anything but sit. Quartz

SciShow Space explains why our solar system is weird.

 

Ryan Bradley: the exploding bolts that get us into space. Popular Science

The Dodo presents the tiniest, fuzziest little horse.

 

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope some of these ideas are pop-corning around in your head, making creative connections and inspiring your creative work.

Until next Tipsday, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

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Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Feb 24-Mar 2, 2019

It’s time to get your mental corn popping with some thoughty Thursday links 🙂

Mary McNamara shares the amazing Emma Thompson’s letter to Skydance regarding the reasons she chose to leave Luck. #metoo LA Times

Jonathan Watts says that concrete is the most destructive material on Earth. The Guardian

David Dobbs: climate change has entered its blood sucking phase. The Atlantic

Ed Yong reports on the troubling discovery made in the deepest ocean trenches. The Atlantic

SciShow Space considers what life might be like on a tidally locked planet.

 

SciShow Psych looks at depression and anxiety and what psychologists and neuroscientists have discovered about them.

 

And they science the shit out of inspiration 🙂

 

Thu-Huong Ha shows us how Bolivia’s most Instagrammable houses showcase indigenous peoples’ reclaimed power. Quartz

Messy Nessy opens their cabinet of Chic curiosities to tour Bernie Madoff’s underwater ballroom. This was featured in Roz Morris’s novel, Lifeform Three. If you like abandoned places or cool architecture, this will be your thing 🙂

Lily Strelich tries to solve an artful mystery: why are Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings breaking out in pimples? The Smithsonian Magazine

And that was your thoughty for the week.

Until next time, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

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Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Dec 16-22, 2018

I hope something in this mix gets your mental corn popping—or, at least makes you smile.

Julie Compton wonders why boys aren’t getting better access to mental health care. The answers are sad, but unsurprising. NBC

SciShow Psych looks at antisocial personality disorder, of ASPD, and why it’s not the same as introversion.

 

Amanda Shendruk: the line, circle, and triangle that can help you with your holiday anxiety. Quartzy

Charlie Jane Anders: seven trans performers share the challenges they still face and their hopes for the future. Teen Vogue

The Guardian considers the alba amicorum: was it the original Facebook to Renaissance teens?

ASAP Science: this is why the holidays can suck!

 

And two really cute vids, just to bring a wee smile to your lips (and maybe heart?):

Parrot steals bottlecap – and does a victory dance!

 

The pika (AKA bunny-rat) might be the world’s cutest thief! BBC

 

I hope you enjoyed this week’s edutainment mix.

Until next Tipsday, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

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Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Oct 21-27, 2018

Here’s a good selection of articles and posts to get your mental corn popping (making those creative connections).

Fake news and lies: the caravan edition. Jim C. Hines (AKA the voice of reason)

Rachel Monroe profiles the FBI of the National Park Service. Outside

Former CIA chief explains how spies use disguises. Wired

 

Ivan Semeniuk interviews Canada’s newest Nobel Prize winner, Donna Strickland: I just wanted to do something fun. The Globe and Mail

Douglas Fox wants you to meet the endoterrestrials. The Atlantic

Phil Plait shares an awesome video that shows you how big the biggest stars really are. SyFy

Farhad Manjoo: a future where everything becomes a computer is as creepy as you feared. The New York Times

Emily Mullin explains how tuberculosis shaped Victorian fashion. The Smithsonian Magazine

Antonio Regalado relates one family’s race for a gene therapy cure. MIT Technology Review

Diana Kwon reports on the nerve pathway linking the stomach to the brain’s pleasure centers. Scientific American

Alex Williams: maybe your sleep problem isn’t a problem. Me? I’d prefer to sleep until 8 or 9 am and slowly roll into the day. Too bad I can’t actually do that. The New York Times

Sarah DiGuilio explains why some researchers think “brain tingles” could be the next big trend in relaxation. My ASMR aren’t triggered visually or auditorily, but tactilely. I’ve always had a thing for someone running their fingers lightly over my back. I used to bug my best friend to do it when I was a kid. NBC News

Sadie Caron says that nature is a free and easy way to manage anxiety. North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper

Maybe my stoicism and introversion are hard-wired? Laura Studarus explains how the Finnish survive without small talk. BBC

Check out this guilty dogs compilation. Laugh & Grin

 

Be well until the weekend!

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Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Sept 30-Oct 6, 2018

The thoughy’s focused on psychology and neuroscience this week. What appropriate subject matter for getting your mental corn popping 🙂

Lisa Margonelli enters the jaw-dropping world of termites: a giant, crawling brain. The Guardian

Mark Humphries presents a new prime suspect for depression. The Spike/Medium

Bruce Goldman-Stanford says people with depression have low blood levels of this stuff (but that doesn’t mean you should rush out to buy some). Futurity

Joseph Frankel: hallucinations are everywhere. The Atlantic

Ermin Misirlisoy explains what happens when your body is no longer yours. Medium

Paula Cocozza examines night terrors: what do anxiety dreams mean? The Guardian

Inverse: Your brain on horror with Shannon Odell.

 

Jacqueline Detwiler introduces us to the heroes of science who are unlocking the brain. Popular Mechanics

Ayodeji Awosika explains why it’s dangerous to focus on finding your passion and what you should do instead. Medium

And that was thoughty Thursday.

Until next Tipsday, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!thoughtythursday2016

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Aug 5-11, 2018

It’s time to get your mental corn popping, that is, to present you with some interesting stuff in the hope that the resulting creative connections will lead to your next awesome project! Yup, that’s what thoughty Thursday’s all about.

Patricia Grisafi writes about the terrible “what if”: how OCD makes every day a matter of life and death. The Guardian

Brenda Knowles wonders if solitary activities are only half-fixes for anxiety and depression. Space2Live

Your brain on caffeine with Shannon Odell. Inverse

 

Tom Wipple: how to edit a human. On unlocking the human genome, ethics, and CRISPR. 1843

Jason Pontin discusses the genetics (and ethics) of making humans fit for Mars. Wired

Disney princesses look more like children as the years pass. It’s not accidental. It’s all about neoteny. It’s Okay to be Smart

 

And, for your amusement: Ze Frank’s true facts about the dung beetle.

 

Be well until next tipsday!

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The next chapter: May 2018 update

Hello, all you writerly people!

It’s time for my next chapter update for May 2018.

Looks like I’m finding my stride. Things were going so well with the drafting of Playing with Fire, that I actually decided to take a purposeful break to read the draft to date. The problem I was encountering is that it’s taken me so long, relatively speaking, to draft the darned thing that I started to forget what I’d written way back in November (or December, January, February, March, or April!).

It’s been niggling at me for a while, and sometimes, I’d just go back to the chapter I suspected contained the bit I was looking to be refreshed on, but that got cumbersome, particularly since, once there, I’d start tweaking …

K.M. Weiland has been mentioning how she does a periodic re-read of her WIP, and I decided to give it a try. It was a nice rest, and a great way to tighten some of my plot threads, especially since I didn’t have to time to do much of an outline for this novel before I started drafting.

MayProgress

Even with the break, about nine days, I still managed to surpass my 7,500-word writing goal. I wrote 8,302 words, or 111%.

I’m enjoying the break from weekend blogging as well, and though I adjusted my blogging goal to 3,000 words, even with just the curation posts going up, I managed to write 3,940 words on the blog, or 131% of my goal.

I met my DIY MFA deadline with a long column of 1,739 words, or 174% of my goal, and aggregated my penultimate Sudbury Writers’ Guild newsletter at 6,777 words, or 169% of that goal.

So, it’s been a good month, writing-wise.

The burnout thing

I promised to tell you how the whole burnout thing was going.

Well, after a lot of soul-searching, pondering, and some all-out navel-gazing, I’ve finally figured out why I’ve suffered such a protracted burnout in the past year. And, let’s be clear, I’ve been struggling since at least the beginning of 2017. It might, in fact, be longer than that.

Part of it is historical. It’s my writing wound, the lie I believe about myself as a creative person and about my work. If you’re ever curious and you have the time, you can read the posts in the category, My History as a So-called Writer. That will give you the low-down.

The short version is that my creative life has been full of threshold guardians (in hero’s journey terms), who’ve blocked me, stunted my growth, and betrayed me in various fashions. When I finally found my way back to a consistent writing practice in 2007, I thought I’d conquered those demons. In that version of victory, all the naysayers were wrong, and I was just going to do what I wanted. Screw them.

That, it turns out, was only half the battle. It’s the bitter legacy those experiences left me with that make me innately distrustful of handing my work off to anyone else, whether a friend, beta reader, editor, or … anyone. I don’t believe that the advice I receive is in the story’s best interest. Or mine. I always see it in terms of a personal attack, though unconsciously. I’m aware of it now but, in the moment, I often slip back into old ways of thinking.

While I’ve had some writing success, that lie has never left me. It’s made finding a critique group difficult. It makes working with editors a bit fraught. It also leaves me thinking that I’m not, at heart, a good writer (passable good, not even great) and that people are just humouring me. It’s not merely imposter syndrome. It’s a deep distrust of anyone else’s opinion of my work.

There’s been a lot of self-sabotage involved, mostly unconscious.

This is what I’m working to overcome now. It’s a process. It’s going to take time.

The next piece of the puzzle is that, in January of 2016, after decades of what we thought was good health, Phil went to the clinic thinking he might have shingles, and came home (well, there was some bloodwork in there) with multiple diagnoses: type II diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and possibly shingles.

He had no rash, though. Several months passed and the doctor said, fibromyalgia. Several more months passed, and they finally settled on widespread diabetic neuropathy. Until the doctor found the right combination of meds, there were some horrible times, but it all worked out. Eventually.

Two of the meds Phil was on were Lyrica (an antidepressant found to be effective for nerve pain) and Cymbalta (an anticonvulsant also found to be effective for nerve pain). Aside from managing his pain and elevating his mood (it has often been said of my husband that the inside of his skull is painted black), both medications increased the amount of melatonin in his system.

Phil, who had always been a night owl and considered sleep to be the enemy, was now getting the best sleep of his life. Things went well for a while.

Then, because he got a promotion that required occasional travel, Phil decided to stop both the Lyrica and Cymbalta. He couldn’t risk falling asleep at the wheel. Combine this with a progressively complex and worsening situation at his employer (ongoing) and things quickly went from bad to worse.

The health problems shook me, probably more than I’d care to admit. It was after Phil’s health situation resolved that I started to feel the real effects of the burnout.

But it was the work situation that broke the peace of our household. I was used to living with Mr. Grumpy Pants, but his problems at work followed him home and made everything more difficult. It was about that time that we brought Torvi home. The extra stress of bringing up puppy did not help.

Also in the mix was my great adventure of last year. Though Phil encouraged me to go, I felt horribly guilty about the expense. I’ll just be paying off the last of that debt this month.

Add to all that my own health problems. Though less life-threatening than Phil’s, they were affecting my quality of life. Now that most of them have been addressed, I’m in a much better place.

But every time I tried to dig myself out of the hole, emotionally speaking, in the last couple of years something popped up and dragged me back down. I’ve suffered several episodes of depression, panic attacks, and poor quality of sleep (resulting from the other two).

Most of these issues are resolving. I’ve had my ablation and other health issues are being investigated. I’ve lost about 25 pounds. I’ve gotten back to my regular writing practice and it’s feeling good. Torvi, at eight months and in her second obedience class, is becoming a good dog but, that too is a process.

Really, it’s just Phil’s work situation that’s the continuing problem but, though there’s still no end in sight, slow progress is being made. There’s hope that things might be largely sorted by the end of this year. We just have to hang in there.

I’m sure other world events have played their parts, but I’m actively seeking to minimize their effects on me.

I’ll keep you updated, for those who want to know.

My writerly event of the month

On May first (May Day, Beltaine—yes, I’m a paganish sort) I went to see the staged reading of the latest iteration of Kim Fahner’s play, Sparrows Over Slag. It was part of Play Smelter, which ran the rest of the week. It was fascinating to see the evolution of Kim’s play, of which I was privileged to read an early draft.

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She gave a lovely Q&A afterward that gave further insight into her process. Writing a play is a different beast than any other kind of writing, even screenplays.

Later that week, I had lunch with Kim, who was only in Sudbury for a couple of weeks around Play Smelter. She’s been in south western Ontario, working hard on her craft and trying to figure out her next steps, creatively.

Just chatting over lunch was a balm. We are soul sisters and that won’t change wherever she goes and whatever she chooses to do.

And that’s it for this month’s next chapter update.

Until the next time I blog, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

The Next Chapter

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, April 8-14, 2018

You may notice that your informal writerly learnings are on the small side this week. The vagaries of the interwebz 🙂

K.M. Weiland begins a new series! Your ultimate first chapter checklist, part 1: hooking readers. Helping Writers Become Authors

Joanna Penn interviews Jane Friedman: the business of being a writer. Later in the week, Joanna shares three techniques to write better settings. The Creative Penn

Then, over on Jane’s blog, Jane Anne Staw explains how to make your writing anxiety disappear by thinking small.

Sacha Black tells you how not to mess up your book series. Writers Helping Writers

A.K. Perry delves into another of James Scott Bell’s story signposts—the care package. DIY MFA

Elisabeth Kauffman continues her ask the editor series: how do you end a book? DIY MFA

Kim Bullock offers a mental health checkup for writers: when you’re not okay. Writer Unboxed

Robin LaFevers mines her characters’ wounds. Writer Unboxed

Chris Winkle explains why storytelling advice is such a mess. Mythcreants

Philip Horne: Paul Theroux, Susie Boyt, and Amit Chaudhuri let us look inside their writers’ notebooks. The Guardian

And that was Tipsday for this week.

Be well until Thursday!

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