Changing things up and the reasons why

A few years ago, I decided to change things on the blog. I started curating Tipsday and Thoughty Thursday, and then, on weekends, I mostly blogged my session notes from various conferences and conventions I’d attended.

It was easy for me, with respect to generating content, and I sincerely thought I was offering something of value to my readers. My WordPress stats do not bare this out, however. Round about 2014 (when I started the curation and session notes), my views drop and are consistently below a thousand per month.

views

Views dropped again after Nuala died in 2015. My pupdates were clearly some of my more popular posts, as well.

Even looking at it by day, I only seem to have a peak in views (40+/day, which I know is nothing when it comes down to it) about once a month. When those peaks occur varies. It could be after a Tipsday post (most often), or a Thoughty Thursday post. Sometimes, it’s on a weekend, but it could be session notes, or a monthly update. There’s really no pattern that I can pull out.

But clearly, this means I’m not doing my job.

I have therefore decided that it’s time to shake things up again. Not too much. ‘Cause I’m cautious that way.

I’ve had the most views, likes, and comments on my curation posts, so I’m going to keep blogging those. I’ve created better graphics for them (thank you, Canva) and I still believe they have value.

It’s the weekends I’m going to rethink.

I’m also going to continue my monthly updates. I like sharing my progress on various projects and it keeps me accountable.

I’m no longer going to blog session notes, though. Instead, I’ll do a summary/highlights post of any writerly events I attend. There are enough of those that it will keep me producing quality content. In the past couple of years, I’ve actually glossed over some of these events, or only given them a passing mention in my monthly updates, because I really haven’t had the time to write a post devoted to every event I attended.

I’m going to revisit some of the topics from the blog posts that, even five years on, continue to receive the most traffic.

I’m also going to post a referral to my DIY MFA columns when they come out.

Finally, I’ll fill in the gaps with Movie Madness, Series Discoveries, and the odd book review. There may also be the occasional Muse Inks post on this writer’s life, which won’t focus on the writing, but the other stuff that fills up my life around writing.

When Phil and I get our next fur baby (this fall is the new goal … we hope) Sundog posts may even return 🙂

Because writerly goodness is a solo effort, though, I’m still going to have to take the occasional blogging vacay for some of the bigger events I attend. It’s the way things have to go while I’m still working a day job.

If I want to set the time aside to write and to attend my various writerly professional development opportunities, I really don’t have the time to generate a lot of content to pre-schedule and fill in the gaps. I find myself at the limit as it is, but that may be because of the various commitments I’ve made to some of the professional writing organizations of which I’m a member.

I’m considering a re-envisioning of those commitments, too. There’s only so much of me to go around. Do I want to be writing, or do I want to be contributing to the success of writing organizations? It’s going to be a tough decision, ‘cause I’m like Eek! the cat. I always think it never hurts to help. Until it does.

The next few weeks in writerly goodness:

Next weekend, it will be my monthly Next Chapter update. The weekend following, I’ll be away at Story Masters and won’t be posting, but I’ll tell you all about it the weekend after. I’ll have a few more events to discuss in upcoming weeks, but I’ll get into that in my Next Chapter post.

So stay tuned as I work my way through this transition.

And let me know what you think, please. Will this shift be a pleasing one for you? Perhaps only time (and stats) will tell, but if you have any thoughts to share, I’d love to hear them. And if you have requests to make, I’m all (virtual) ears. I know I can’t please everyone, but I’m willing to incorporate some of your suggestions into my ongoing plan.

Thanks for your time and attention.

You’re the bestest!

Muse-inks

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,900 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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.

Six questions with Hally Willmott

Hally WillmottHally was born in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. She is a Police Officer with the Greater Sudbury Police Service. Hally enjoys reading both fiction and non-fiction. She is a self-proclaimed writer of all things imaginative (both poetry and novels). She also believes that if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything!

She met her forever partner Jerry, and married him thirteen years ago. Together, they have accomplished the greatest feat, being blessed with two gifts from God, their sons Jacob and Jordan.

Between working full time, being a wife and mother, Hally finds the time to write when her kids go to bed, when Jerry’s at work or when their new puppy Jersey decides to wake her up every morning around five a.m.

She and her family enjoy long summer nights by the campfire and cold winter nights snuggled up watching movies in their home.

In 2009, Hally had an idea to write a novel. The idea for Awakenings came to her in a dream, the first in a series of four.

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I was amazed, and I have to say, a little freaked out when Hally reached out to me last week through my blog.  I had no idea that Writerly Goodness had that kind of influence or good will.  Ultimately, I’m flattered and grateful and very pleased to have made the acquaintance of another local writer of fantasy fiction.  A soon-to-be-published writer at that (yay)!

I think that’s what I’m most thankful for: that Writerly Goodness is creating a community and communicating to it in a meaningful way.

Since we live in the same city, I was able to meet with Hally this past weekend and we shared some of our writing ups and downs.

Now I feel privileged to share some of that with you.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer a few questions for me (and my readers).  Welcome to Writerly Goodness, Hally 🙂

HW:  Thank you for having me 🙂

WG: You mention in your bio (above) that the idea for Awakenings came to you in a dream.  Was it a single scene, or the story writ large, and how did you hang onto it long enough to get Jacey’s story down?

HW:   The actual part which outlined my main character Jacey Adison was only a flash.  Once I started telling Jacey’s story she pretty much took over and to this day is still writing it.

WG: For those who may not be aware, what is Awakenings about?

HW:  No matter how many times sixteen-year old Jacey Adison’s parents tell her they must move, she has never questioned their lifestyle. Until now. When Jacey was two, her parents fled the protection of their birthplace, the mystical dimension of Nemele. Leaving was the only solution her parents believed might allow them to keep their family together and alive.

The Adisons have been running from a sect of iniquitous beings from Nemele who covet Jacey. Her parents have repressed their adversaries’ relentless tracking efforts by not utilizing their own mystical powers. They have chosen to conceal themselves within the only realm they knew they’d be able to survive. They are living under their self-imposed powerless sanctions on Earth, which constitutes the nineteenth nation of Nemele.

Her parents have never revealed their true identities to Jacey, consequently keeping her true lineage and unique birthright from her. Jacey’s family has pretended to be non-magical humans as a ploy to prevent an ancient omnipotent entity from killing more innocent beings in its relentless quest to possess Jacey.

Born as an anomaly, Jacey possesses rare abilities that both virtuous and corrupt entities seek to use as their own. Should either side prevail, Jacey may be the saviour or downfall of every world within Nemele’s domains. Blindly thrust into life and death situations, Jacey learns of her true powers within her dreaming and conscious states.

WG: How long did it take you to write Awakenings?  Now the unpleasant second half of that question: how long has it taken you to edit?

HW:  Awakenings took me just under a year to write from start to finish.   ‘Awakenings’ is now in its final stage of edit through Limitless Publishing.

WG: You went through quite a journey to find your publisher.  Would you mind sharing some of that adventure?

HW:  Initially when I wrote it, I had only planned on writing a novel and saying hey I finished it!  It wasn’t until I received positive feedback from some ghost readers that I even thought of having it published.  Because I was green when it came to the publishing world, I thought hey – why not?  Can’t be that hard…can it?  Well, after at least one hundred rejections from both publishing houses and agents I finally got one YES – And that’s all it takes 😉

WG: Now for the introspective question: how do you keep everything balanced and find time for work, family, and writing?

HW:  I’ve never been one to do something half heartedly.  So, sometimes others facets of my life may take a back burner while I focus on something else.  I have to say I have an EXTREMELY supportive family.  Without them and God I would have never been able to get to where I am today.

WG: What’s coming up next for Hally Willmott, Author?

HW:  The cover reveal for my first novel is on Wednesday the 20th of March 2013, and ‘Awakenings’ is set to be released in late May early June 2013.  I’m excited about the release of my debut novel and I will be actively promoting its success over the next while.

Thanks again, Hally, and the best of luck with your future writing endeavours!  Knock our readerly socks off 🙂

Do you dress for success?

If you’ve been reading Writerly Goodness for any length of time, then you’ll know that I’m fascinated by process, my own and others’.  I love to find out how other creative people do what they do, their sets of rules and their arcane rituals.  On Facebook, I often share the tips and tricks I find on my blogly ramblings, and secretly, I take a certain perverse pleasure in how many of those rules I break, and how many guidelines I defy.

Writerly Goodness aspires to the transgressive, but only rarely does she manage the faithful leap such actions require.

In May of 2011, I attended the Canadian Authors Association’s CanWrite! Conference.  Workshop host Barbara Kyle offered many writing tips, but the one that stays in my mind is this: dress for success.

Why?  I suppose it’s because I don’t, but more on that in a bit.

Barbara stated that when she got up in the morning, she was always careful to dress appropriately, as if for work: business casual.  She said that this practice honoured her work and her as its creator.  Dressing for work meant that she was serious about her writing, that she wasn’t taking anything for granted, and that she wasn’t going to waste anyone’s time, not hers, not her readers’, and certainly not her agent’s, editor’s, or publisher’s.

I agree that one should dress appropriately for one’s work, but to me, that depends entirely on what your work and life is like.  Let me ‘splain …

Writing is Barbara’s second career, after a successful first career as an actress.  She stopped acting to become an author and made the decision to write full time.  The temptation for someone in that position would be to become part of the pyjama patrol, roll out of bed, and stumble to the computer.  Barbara worked hard at her first career and knew the value of discipline, however; she knew that the slovenly writer’s life was not for her.

I don’t have that luxury.  I have to work and I have to dress appropriately for work.  When I get home of an evening, it’s actually part of my ritual to dress down for my writing.  Phil and I call this transforming into ‘comfort woman’ 🙂

I need to shed one professional self to become another, and my professional writer wants to be comfortable.

Right now, I’m in my shortie penguin pj’s, and damn, do I feel good!  You might have the urge to equate me to Michael Douglas’s character in Wonder Boys who wore the same bedraggled housecoat to write in every day … and discovered he was hideously blocked!  That would be a mistake.

I have a reason to dress as I do when I write.  That in no way means that I am any less diligent or devoted to my craft.  It simply means that my definition of appropriate dress is different.  So I’m comfortable saying that I still dress for success.

Process is different for every writer.  That’s why I find it so fascinating.

What about you?  How do you dress for success?  What does that mean for you?

What happened afterward

Last time on My history as a so-called writer: NEOVerse opened new possibilities 🙂

About the same time that I started working for ACCUTE, my sister-in-law told me to apply for a job with her employer.  I did and before the year was out, I was once again working two jobs at the same time, up to sixty hours a week.

Exhausted, I left ACCUTE and stuck with the better career opportunity.  It was in a call centre, not something I’d generally choose for myself, but in Sudbury at the time, it was a very good job (considering pay, benefits, and pension) and I needed that.

It felt like selling out, though.  Plus, I wasn’t suited to it.  Every negative call stayed with me.  Every anguished personal tale made me feel guilty that I couldn’t do anything to help.  I tried working full-time, but couldn’t hack it long-term and returned to a part-time schedule after six months.

It was at this time that my depression, which I’d been trying to deny since I was seventeen, reared its ugly head in earnest and I had to deal. Medication and therapy provided a short-term solution, but eventually, I weaned myself off the meds and tried to manage my illness through diet, exercise, meditation, and persistent awareness of what my body, heart, and mind were telling me.

They were screaming at me to get out, but I didn’t have any other options.

Term employment led to permanent, a mortgage (negotiated to consolidate our debt including our sizable school loans), and a car loan.

I was an adult now, with an adult job, adult debts, and adult responsibilities.  I was a home-owner.  All creativity seemed to vanish.  Though I was still certain that I wanted to write, I was unable to muster the necessary dedication.  Writing was now something reserved for vacation.

This went on for years.  I tried to wedge my butt in my desk chair, but it never stayed for long.  I did pull out my old project from time to time, but couldn’t focus. I joined the Sudbury Writers’ Guild and attended a fall workshop with Rosemary Aubert.  To be honest, I’d never heard of her before, but the workshop was great and I was inspired.

When my grandfather passed away, part of my small inheritance went toward a lap top computer.  That helped a little too.  I wasn’t chained indoors in the middle of summer anymore.  I wrote more that year.

I was successful in an internal competition at work.  Better pay and a better job.  It was a good thing.  Just before I started, the Sudbury Writers’ Guild scored another coup: Nino Ricci.  That was when my writing life changed.

In the wake of that workshop, I started writing every day.

That was the real beginning of my life as a writer.

Took me long enough, didn’t it?

Gratuitous links regarding the butt in chair phenomenon:

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This is my last post in My history as a so-called writer for the foreseeable.  Other tales of Writerly Goodness can be found under my categories: Work in progress and Authorial name dropping.  Next week, my blogging schedule will change, so stay tuned.

I will continue to post in Select poetry, Alchemy Ink, Work in progress, and Breaking open the mind, my learning category.