38Write Square Peg, Round Hole?: The September Writing Workshop Launches Tomorrow

38Write—my global writing initiative—is a monthly series of online writing adventure workshops for place-passionate, culturally curious writers around the world. Each writing adventure focuses on one particular aspect of craft or the writing life (for example, writing kick-butt descriptions), and during each 38-hour adventure, writers connect with me and 38Write writers around the world via a Twitter hashtag and a group Pinterest board. Lots of good work getting done.


Tomorrow—Saturday, September 29—#38Write | Square Peg, Round Hole? launches! This is the fourth writing workshop in the #38Write monthly series and I’m looking forward to reading what the writers get on the page this time around. 12 writers in 8 countries will be looking at their square peg, round hole (and roundish peg, round hole) experiences around the world and, of course, writing:

  • Australia
  • U.S.
  • U.K.
  • France
  • Belgium
  • S. Korea
  • Japan
  • Spain

Since using Pinterest in the workshop worked so beautifully during the July and August workshops, I’m using it again, and #38Write writers are already pinning on the group #38Write | Square Peg, Round Hole? Pinterest board. (Check it out here.)

Looks like we’re ready to go. If you’re curious about #38Write, you can check out the conversation among writers this weekend using the Twitter hashtag: #38Write.

Happy writerhead!

 

Writerhead Wednesday: Featuring Dinty Moore

Welcome to Writerhead Wednesday, a weekly feature in which a brilliant, charming, remarkable author talks about her/his writerhead…a precious opportunity for looky-loos around the world to sneak into the creative noggins of talented writers and (ever so gently) muck about.


Now ssshhhh, don’t y’all start raising a ruckus just because Dinty Moore (yes, THE Dinty Moore!!!) is here at Writerhead. Yes, it’s true, he’s…

But despite all that, you still can’t venture into Dinty’s writerhead whooping and hollering like a gaggle of writers and readers gone wild (see Dinty’s answer to question #2 below). This kind of hallowed ground deserves a little respect and consideration.

So if you’re ready to show a little of each, we’ll proceed.

As Dinty says, “Breathe deeply, friends.”

1. Describe your state of writerhead (the where, the when, the how, the what, the internal, the external).

Writerhead is when the writing is talking back to me and I have to listen. I have to listen even more than I have to listen to my wife Renita when she asks if I want cereal or yogurt for breakfast and whether I want it now or want it left for me on the kitchen counter. (Yeah, I know, I’m lucky that way.) Back when I primarily wrote fiction, it was the characters talking back to me, suggesting what might happen next, or what they might say. Those were golden moments. Now that I’m primarily always in nonfiction mode, it is the ideas talking back to me, suggesting ramifications or reversals, and sometimes it feels like it is me talking back to me, the crotchety old man in one corner of my brain (me) arguing with the optimist (also me) in another corner and both shushing me (also me) up so I can hear what they have to say, because in their view (which is also my view) what they have to say is more important than anything I was going to come up with on my own.

2. What happens if someone/something interrupts writerhead? (a spouse, a lover, a barking dog, an electrical outage, a baby’s cry, a phone call, a leg cramp, a dried-up pen, a computer crash, etc.)

I ignore phone calls, dog barks, lightning storms, and all lesser stimuli, but someone in my office doorway asking me a direct question is hard to overlook. The first thing that happens is that I wave my arms in front of my face as if I had been attacked by gnats. I am startled, surprised to find a keyboard and a computer screen in front of me, and flabbergasted at the sound of an actual voice, instead of those voices emanating from the musty back alleys of my inner consciousness. And then I either splutter, “Wait, wait, one minute until I get this down,” or I look so startled that my spouse backs off and calls her best friend and gossips about what a freak I am. (Actually, that’s a lie. She has great regard for the artistic process.) When my daughter was little and I would stagger out of my office mid-morning looking like I had been on an all-night whiskey binge, my wife would calmly explain that, “Daddy is in story land. He’ll be okay after he showers.”

3. Using a simile or metaphor, compare your writerhead to something.

Writerhead is like an endorphin high from exercise, without the aching leg muscles, or a marijuana high, without the paranoia, guilt, shame, and dirty ashtrays. Writerhead is like getting up out of your chair, crawling into your own ear, and wandering around inside of your own brain for two or twenty minutes, and the whole time you are also sitting in that chair, typing notes on what you’ve found.

BIO: Dinty W. Moore is author of numerous books, including The Mindful Writer: Noble Truths of the Writing Life, Crafting the Personal Essay: A Guide for Writing and Publishing Creative Nonfiction, and the memoir Between Panic & Desire, winner of the Grub Street Nonfiction Book Prize. He recently edited THE ROSE METAL PRESS FIELD GUIDE TO WRITING FLASH NONFICTION: Advice and Essential Exercises from Respected Writers, Editors, and Teachers.

Having failed as a zookeeper, modern dancer, Greenwich Village waiter, filmmaker, and wire service journalist, he now writes essays and stories. He has been published in The Southern Review, The Georgia Review, Harpers, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine, Gettysburg Review, Utne Reader, and Crazyhorse, among numerous other venues.

Dinty lives in Athens, Ohio, the funkadelicious, hillbilly-hippie Appalachian epicenter of the locally-grown, locally-consumed, goats-are-for-cheese, paw-paws-are-for-eatin’, artisanal-salsa, our-farmers-market-rocks-the-hills sub-culture, where he grows his own heirloom tomatoes and edible dandelions, and teaches a crop of brilliant undergraduate and stunningly talented graduate students as director of Ohio University’s BA, MA, and PhD in Creative Writing program.

CONNECT: To find out more about Dinty, visit his website. He is also the editor of one of my favorite online literary magazines, Brevity, “a small magazine with large ambitions.” You can also give him a high-five on Twitter (@brevitymag).

 


Mojo Monday: #38Write & “How Might We”

It’s Mojo Monday, and as always, I’ve got a little something-something to lift your creative spirits, buoy you up, help you get your mojo on, and nudge (or better yet, catapult) you into writerhead.


Yesterday I read a blog post over at the Harvard Business Review about how the most successful companies wrestle creative challenges by leading off discussions with “How might we….”

HOW MIGHT WE

(fly to the moon, build more affordable housing, grow a better tasting tomato, train better math teachers, reduce water usage in washing machines, invent a machine that records dreams, train dogs not to grab plates of hamburgers from counters, create more green space in giant cities, etc.)

HOW MIGHT WE

It struck a chord.

HOW MIGHT WE

Because HOW MIGHT WE is exactly why I launched the #38Write writing adventure workshop series. Because each day I ask myself the following questions and look forward to helping writers who ask them, too.

  • How might we tell the story of culture and our place in it?
  • How might we share the communities and cultures in which we live, no matter where we live?
  • How might we take a more honest look at our own preconceived notions, prejudices, and biases?
  • How might we be braver as storytellers?
  • How might we feel more empathy to people who are different from us?
  • How might we get what is in our heads and hearts onto the page?
  • How might we write kick-ass stories and novels and essays that keep people thinking about them long after they’ve closed the book/turned off the e-reader?
  • How might we do all this in our own gorgeous, unique voices? And how might we access those voices?

There are two ways you can get involved with #38Write:

  • Register here for September’s #38Write (theme = “Square Peg, Round Hole?”), which will take place on September 29–30. This will guarantee you a spot in the workshop.
  • Enter the contest to win a scholarship to September’s #38Write. Click here for more info on how to win!

Cheers!

 

 

#38Write: Win, Win, Win A Scholarship to September’s #38Write

#38Write—my global writing initiative—is a monthly series of online writing adventure workshops for place-passionate, culturally curious writers around the world. Each writing adventure focuses on one particular aspect of craft or the writing life (for example, writing kick-butt descriptions), and during each 38-hour adventure, writers connect with me and #38Write writers around the world via a Twitter hashtag and a group Pinterest board. In the August workshop, we had 16 writers in 8 countries.


Big news!

I’m giving away one scholarship for the September #38Write writing workshop! Yep, one lucky writer or aspiring writer will get to take the workshop for free.

The workshop will take place on September 29–30, and the theme is “Square Peg, Round Hole?” To learn more about the workshop, click here and here.

Folks all around the world are encouraged to enter the #38Write contest.

Here’s the scoop…

How to Enter

Leave a comment below telling why you’re the perfect candidate for this scholarship. Perhaps a quick story about a place or culture with which you’ve connected deeply OR a place or culture with which you’ve disconnected completely. Make a list of all the places you’ve lived or write a description of the place where you’ve lived all your life. Tell me why you’re interested in the workshop. Or… (you get the picture)

I’ll choose the winner on Wednesday, September 26. You may leave comments until then. (only one comment per person)

AND…please be sure to leave an email address OR check back on Wednesday to see if you’ve won!

Who Can Enter

You quality if:

  • You’ve NEVER taken a #38Write workshop before. (If you’ve EVER taken a #38Write workshop, you may not enter the contest.)
  • You are able to write in English. (English might be your second, third, or fourth language. Perfectly fine.)
  • You can commit to the September 29–30 weekend.

Details, Details

  • You can’t transfer this scholarship to another #38Write. Nope, not for any reason…not illness, a dental appointment, a wacky travel schedule, a sick kiddo, an unexpected jail term, a Nobel Prize, etc. The winner must take the September #38Write (September 29–30).

What Are Writers Writing in #38Write?

Ooh, such good, good stuff (both fiction and nonfiction):

  • Here’s a sampling from August’s #38Write (Peregrination).
  • In the July #38Write (Structure), I asked writers to define culture without using any external resources (dictionary, thesaurus, Internet, friends, etc.). Here’s what some of them wrote

What Are Writers Saying About #38Write?

  • “I entered 38Write timidly and came out confident.” (Anita C., U.S.)
  • “And what I love the most is that the writing exercises and Pinterest board make me look at stories, people, and places from different perspectives. They make me think of the whole craft behind the beautiful words on the paper.” (Maria C., U.K.)
  • “…thanks to Kristin I am inspired to continue to find that voice and explore the world of written expression once again.” (Lisa T., Belgium)
  • “…unbeatable cultural connection—writing perspectives from Belgium to Turkey!” (Meena V., U.S.)
  • “To focus, for one weekend a month, on some particular way of tackling ‘place’ has been a perfect way to hone my skills, get some inspiration, and learn from Kristin as well as the other fascinating participants.” (Jennifer L., South Korea)
  • To read lots more from #38Write writers, click here.

Unique Aspects of #38Write

  • It all happens in a weekend.
  • #38Write is a marvelously global workshop, with writers in South Korea, Australia, Belgium, the U.K., China, and many more countries.
  • The workshop has a strong social media aspect. Writers in the workshop connect via both Twitter and Pinterest. (Some writers in the workshop choose some or none of the social media engagement; it’s up to each individual.)
  • You get solid feedback from me, an author with an MFA degree, nearly 20 years as a writing workshop instructor, and almost five years of experience as an expat in China.

How I’ll Choose the Winner

  • I’ll be using the highly scientific method of putting into a hat the names of all folks who comment and having my four-year-old reach in and pull a name. (Time and time again, this method has proven to be fail-safe under the most extraordinary conditions. You can depend on my four-year-old.)
  • Again, this will happen on Wednesday, September 26. Don’t dilly-dally.

Spread the Word

  • Please spread the word about the scholarship! Tweet about it. Put it on your Facebook page. Share it in your blog.

 

This is a great opportunity to try something new as a writer. Hope to see your comment below!

 

Writerhead Wednesday: Featuring Marcia Aldrich

Welcome to Writerhead Wednesday, a weekly feature in which a brilliant, charming, remarkable author talks about her/his writerhead…a precious opportunity for looky-loos around the world to sneak into the creative noggins of talented writers and (ever so gently) muck about.


Marcia Aldrich, author of the new memoir Companion to an Untold Story, came onto my radar earlier this year via Ned Stuckey-French…and I’m so glad she did. As you’ll see below, this woman can write. She lures you to her world so gently and deliberately, it’s impossible not to follow.

You’ll see what I mean. Let’s go.

1. Describe your state of writerhead (the where, the when, the how, the what, the internal, the external).

When I was in high school as other girls compiled lists of names for the children they dreamed of having, I wrote the titles of the books I hoped to write when I grew up. Most of my girlfriends aspired for a life fulfilled through marriage and children. I dreamed of a life that would begin and end in my solitary bed, with just enough room for myself, a book, and a writing pad. I might go out into the world for romantic adventures, I thought, but I would return to my narrow bed, where I imagined everything inside me would bloom.

In one of my life’s many ironic twists, that’s not how it turned out. I did not arrange my life along the solitary lines I had envisioned at fifteen. Among my friends I was the first to marry and had my first child in graduate school. My husband, also a graduate student, and I shared one desk and one bed and we took turns using the computer between shifts of child care. After teaching my morning classes, I’d take the bus home where Richard would meet me at the bus stop with Clare in his arms. He’d hand her off to me as I descended the steps and he got on to go teach his afternoon classes. It would have been comical if the timing hadn’t been so precarious. At the end of our first year of our first post graduate school jobs, we had our second child. If I was writing something autobiographical about those days, I’d call it Spillage because all our boundaries were overrun.

We tend to think of writers removing themselves from the thoroughfare of living, retreating to rooms of their own and closing the door. That’s how I located writers in my imagination growing up. But in my life there has been no sacred, solitary space except in my head. I have had to compose however and wherever I could, carving out a niche for myself in attics and basements and bathrooms if need be, by flashlight and candlelight and by the flare of a fire. I have not depended upon an ideal location or situation to make my writing possible even if at times I have yearned for a cabin of my own.

Still, within the particular demands of my life, I prefer to write in my bed, a bed I share, in my bedroom, a room I share, where there are no books in the early morning right after I have woken up and before I begin to attend to children or dogs, before the phone begins to ring and the noise of the living intrudes. Why no books, you might ask; wouldn’t they be inspiring? And of course certain books are inspiring and I want to have them near me, but not when I’m trying to write. At those times the voices in those books crowd me. I try to stir as little as possible reaching for my pad and pen on the night table where I keep them. I’ve been communing with the dead, listening to their wise counsel during my night of sleep. If I’m careful and lucky, I manage to keep my ear to the grave for a bit after I’ve opened my eyes.

Once I’m inserted fully into the day, it becomes difficult to keep the brain I woke with alive—what you call writerhead. In those early hours of the milky morning, my mind, body, and heart are on the same calm plane and working rhythmically together.

2. What happens if someone/something interrupts writerhead? (a spouse, a lover, a barking dog, an electrical outage, a baby’s cry, a phone call, a leg cramp, a dried-up pen, a computer crash, etc.)

When I was embarking on my own writing life, the women writers I hungrily read were temperamentally and stylistically varied but shared certain defining biographical features. Emily Bronte, Jane Austen, George Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Willa Cather, Emily Dickinson, and Edith Wharton did not have children. They were all wed to their writing above all else, for better or worse, until death did them part. Each represented a fierce intelligence and commitment to use all their ingenuity to arrange their lives so as to write and write they did. A woman must choose, I thought, unless she wants to be torn asunder by competing demands and desires.

Closer to my own time, Sylvia Plath has been another influential exemplar. She read the same women writers I had and noted the same stark fact: these women did not bear children. She was determined to try to have it all, to be the modern woman writer with marriage, children, and the literary career. We know what happened to her.

I’ve spent my adult life thinking about my forebears, going over their choices, what they gained and what they lost, wondering about my own imperatives and choices. Sometimes when I feel driven like a scourge by the life I’ve put into motion, it seems I haven’t made any choices, and that my life has just happened. Of course, this is false. I chose to have children before my career was launched. Many of my women friends chose otherwise. They chose to devote themselves to establishing their careers first and then to have children. I wasn’t orderly. I tried to do everything simultaneously with certain predictable results. Picture a woman whipping up a soufflé while vacuuming the living room while a baby bounces in the doorway while the phone is ringing and someone is at the door and a notebook is open on the counter with a pen lying quietly in the crease. That would be me. Oh and add a stack of student papers that need to be graded and a stack of books I’m teaching. Oh and a dog and three cats, maybe a few plants capsized on a bookshelf. And my glasses are sliding down my nose. Interruptions to my writing aren’t something that I can calculate a sum for; they have defined my writing life.

It has perhaps been impossible to know what would feed me, what would make my writing rich and so I have followed my instincts even if they seemed counterproductive. My inclinations were to try to have children, a complicated home life, a career and a writing life, rather than not to try. I accepted that I might come to rack and ruin by this method but that an orderly life wasn’t for me. I couldn’t see myself with a writing life but no children or a life with children but no writing. I knew I was rushing headlong into chaos and possible catastrophe and I just kept going.

Now looking back, I can say there were times I went under, that there wasn’t enough of me to go around, that sometimes I didn’t serve anyone as well as I would have liked, least of all myself. For whatever reason I could never give anything up. I couldn’t give up trying to write, I couldn’t give up being a teacher, and I couldn’t give up being a mother or a wife or a friend. I couldn’t give up having dogs and cats and a garden and dinner every night.

And yes there are times when I lose my equilibrium. I know when I have it and when I don’t: I tip like a boat about to capsize. I start careening through the world, slipping in the shower, tripping on the hem of my skirt, mistiming opening and closing doors, tea kettles are forever whistling waiting for me to remove them from the heat, papers scatter from my hands across my students’ desks like fast moving clouds just before a tornado hits.

And then I have to right myself—I have to divest myself from unwanted obligations, attachments, behaviors. I resign from committees and programs I run at work. I let laundry pile up, dirt gather in all the corners, peonies fall because I did not stake them, and emails go unanswered for a day or two. In general I try to stop accepting responsibility for the maintenance and success of the world, well not the world, but my small corner of it. It’s hard to see the dishes pile in the sink corroding and not pick up a sponge, hard to watch the grass die because I didn’t water it. The list goes on. I’ve had to school myself to say no. Friends said you must learn to say no. And I began. No felt funny to shape in my mouth and even funnier when I said it out loud. Saying no seemed the verbal equivalent of setting off a bomb, a kind of personal terrorism to reclaim the tiny principality called myself, my writerhead.

3. Using a simile or metaphor, compare your writerhead to something.

The closest companion to writerhead in my life is swimming. I am open to the lessons swimming teaches me—don’t try to dominate the water. Subdue yourself. Try to swim inside the water.

In other places and situations being a quiet person hurts me. In the water the quietest swimmer is the best swimmer. Working against the water is exhausting. I’ve known instinctually that water is the story—she suffers my presence.

BIO: Marcia Aldrich teaches creative writing at Michigan State University. She is the author of Girl Rearing, published by W.W. Norton and part of the Barnes and Noble Discover New Writers Series. She has had essays appear in The Best American Essays, The Beacon Book of Essays by Contemporary American Women, and a wide range of literary magazines. She has been the editor of Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction. In 2010 she was the recipient of the Distinguished Professor of The Year Award for the state of Michigan. Companion to an Untold Story was selected by Susan Orlean for the 2011 AWP Award in Nonfiction.

CONNECT: To learn more about Marcia and her new memoir, visit her website and her blog. Or simply skip all the in-between steps and buy her book here.

 

Mojo Monday: Don DeLillo’s Writerhead

It’s Mojo Monday, and as always, I’ve got a little something-something to lift your creative spirits, buoy you up, help you get your mojo on, and nudge (or better yet, catapult) you into writerhead.


Yep, Don DeLillo talked about his purest writerhead in a Paris Review interview. Love this! (to read full interview, click here)

INTERVIEWER

Athletes—basketball players, football players—talk about “getting into the zone.” Is there a writer’s zone you get into?

DeLILLO

There’s a zone I aspire to. Finding it is another question. It’s a state of automatic writing, and it represents the paradox that’s at the center of a writer’s consciousness—this writer’s anyway. First you look for discipline and control. You want to exercise your will, bend the language your way, bend the world your way. You want to control the flow of impulses, images, words, faces, ideas. But there’s a higher place, a secret aspiration. You want to let go. You want to lose yourself in language, become a carrier or messenger. The best moments involve a loss of control. It’s a kind of rapture, and it can happen with words and phrases fairly often—completely surprising combinations that make a higher kind of sense, that come to you out of nowhere. But rarely for extended periods, for paragraphs and pages—I think poets must have more access to this state than novelists do. In End Zone, a number of characters play a game of touch football in a snowstorm. There’s nothing rapturous or magical about the writing. The writing is simple. But I wrote the passage, maybe five or six pages, in a state of pure momentum, without the slightest pause or deliberation.

38Write: 5 Reasons to Sign Up for September’s #38Write

#38Write—my global writing initiative—is a monthly series of online writing adventure workshops for place-passionate, culturally curious writers around the world. Each writing adventure focuses on one particular aspect of craft or the writing life (for example, writing kick-butt descriptions), and during each 38-hour adventure, writers connect with me and #38Write writers around the world via a Twitter hashtag and a group Pinterest board. In the August workshop, we had 16 writers in 8 countries!


September’s #38Write writing workshop (Square Peg, Round Hole) will take place on September 29–30. (For a thorough explanation of Square Peg, Round Hole, click here.)

If you haven’t signed up yet, here are five six compelling reasons you absolutely should:

  • You sometimes feel like a square peg in a round hole.
  • You have NEVER, EVER in your entire life felt like a square peg in a round hole and you’ve been looking for the perfect opportunity to tell why/how you achieved such a spectacular feat.
  • You’re a writer who loves Pinterest and you’re aching to combine your passions. (See Square Peg, Round Hole Pinterest to-be-group board here. Check out how I use Pinterest in #38Write here.)
  • You’re curious about how a 38-hour writing workshop actually works. (Yep, just 38 hours. Check out some of the kick-ass writing that erupts from a 38-hour workshop here.)
  • #38Write is affordable (just $38 U.S.) and manageable (time-wise).
  • You’re a place-passionate, culture junkie who has stories to tell. (Well, come on then…click on over to the “Classes” page and register.)

 

Writerhead Wednesday: Featuring Lynda Rutledge

Welcome to Writerhead Wednesday, a weekly feature in which a brilliant, charming, remarkable author talks about her/his writerhead…a precious opportunity for looky-loos around the world to sneak into the creative noggins of talented writers and (ever so gently) muck about.


Because I’ve known Lynda Rutledge since I was in graduate school at Columbia College in Chicago back in the 1990s, I’m especially delighted to share her debut novel here on Writerhead Wednesday. If you haven’t read Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale yet, get your cutie-patootie to the bookstore or library.

Now, without further ado, please raise your glasses and give a cheer for Lynda’s writerhead.

Whoop! Whoop!

1. Describe your state of writerhead (the where, the when, the how, the what, the internal, the external).

To answer, I’ll tell you of the first moment my journalistic mind tripped the light fantastic into the sometimes dangerous land of writerly lies we call fiction writing. It happened in Chicago years ago when I was just beginning to play around with creating fiction. I was a full-time freelance journalist with literary pretensions, and I had to carefully keep my two worlds—facts and fabrication—apart. And for a long time, I did just fine.

Then… My spouse and I had friends in a picturesque small town outside Chicago and we’d drive out there every few weeks. One day, we passed a homemade sign on the roadside we hadn’t seen before. I don’t recall what the sign said; I just recall my saying something like: “I wonder what’s that’s about? Maybe it’s…[insert a scenario].”

My long-suffering spouse never commented on my speculations since it was a form of entertainment for me, this weaving of riding-along “what-ifs,” and he’d heard it all before.

A few weeks later, we drove by the same sign again.

This time I said, “Hey, I wonder how that [insert scenario] is going?”

The spouse looked at me all-but-crosseyed.

“What?” I said, wondering what his problem was.

“Lynda, you made that up. You know that, right?”

I gawked for a long moment. Then I guffawed: Omigod, I had. The secret to making fiction “real” is that the writer has to believe it, and obviously that’s what I’d done to a fault; I had created the scenario so vividly in my head that I had forgotten it wasn’t real. My two worlds had collided. Now what was I going to do? I decided I’d accept it, let it happen as it would, and see where it took me. My journalist days were obviously numbered, and it was time. Now it’s the place I wander into every day, if it’s a good day. And sometimes even more so when it’s not: No longer am I cranky in stalled traffic or in long lines (at least if they’re not too long). Instead, I eavesdrop, watch, and catalog. Stand in front of me at the DMV and prepare to become grist for my little writer’s mill. Make me think creatively, delight me with your weirdness, force me to see things differently enough to weave a “what if” scenario or two, and I relax. Everything is fodder. Except for those first draft pangs, where nothing seems to want to behave and the earth seems to insist on spinning backwards, I notice that I’m happiest there.

2. What happens if someone/something interrupts writerhead? (a spouse, a lover, a barking dog, an electrical outage, a baby’s cry, a phone call, a leg cramp, a dried-up pen, a computer crash, etc.)

It’s pretty ugly. You’d think my friends (the ones I have left) and my family (the ones who still speak to me after their heads have been bitten off) would learn to leave the crazy woman alone when she has that “look,” but since that would mean I’d stay in my writer cave so much I’d not sleep, eat, or even notice the earth spinning, that’s pretty much impossible. So, of course, I stay cranky on every entry and exit. It’s always a bumpy ride.

3. Using a simile or metaphor, compare your writerhead to something.

For me, it’s an altered state, like the time I took peyote with the Navajo shaman outside of Taos…oh, wait. I made that up. Or did I?

BIO: Hopping across literary and geographic boundaries in her writing career, Lynda’s been a freelance journalist, travel writer, ghostwriter, restaurant and film reviewer, copywriter, college professor, book collaborator, and nonfiction author while living/writing/studying in Chicago, San Diego, New Orleans, Madrid, and many elsewheres, her wanderlust as strong as her writerhead. But her creative writing has always been the stuff of her biggest literary dreams. She’s won awards and residencies from the Illinois Arts Council, Writers League of Texas, Ragdale Foundation, Atlantic Center for the Arts, among others. Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale is her debut novel.

CONNECT: To learn more about Lynda and her spectacular debut novel, visit her website, check out her blog, give her a wave on Twitter (@LyndaRutledge), or become a fan on Facebook.

Mojo Monday: China Talks: “2032: The Future We Want”

It’s Mojo Monday, and as always, I’ve got a little something-something to lift your creative spirits, buoy you up, help you get your mojo on, and nudge (or better yet, catapult) you into writerhead.


In this film—produced as part of the UN’s “The Future We Want” campaign—”232 ordinary Chinese citizens were invited to answer the same question in front of the camera: ‘What do you want the world to be like in twenty years?'”

It’s kinda cool.

SUM-it UP: A Guest Post by Anastasia Ashman, Cofounder of GlobalNiche.net

You add up. Now make yourself discoverable, too.

by Anastasia Ashman

Writers are born content producers. The more prolific among us are literally *volcanoes* of content, ideas springing from our skull like Athena from the head of Zeus. Talk about writerhead!

Yet, I suspect a majority of what you’ve generated in your writing life isn’t actively working for you. It’s probably not laid out as a path directly to where you want to go, nor presented as an invitation to other like-minded souls and interested parties to join you in your journey. It’s not contributing to the discoverability of you. I’ll explain what I mean in a minute.

First, a show of hands: who’s got office and library shelves full of reams of paper, boxes and binders, clippings and photos and notes? Sketches and recorded interviews and scrapbook materials? What about in the hall closet, and all that stuff in the basement? Floppy disks, hard drives, external drives, CDs. I bet you have a bunch of content stored here, there and everywhere.

There’s a reason you haven’t gotten rid it of—even the bad poetry from college, or, heaven forbid, middle school.

That mountain of stuff represents our effort and interest, and independent research that perhaps no one around us thought was a good use of our time but we chose to do it because it made us feel alive.

Think of all the hobbies you’ve poured yourself into and how you’ve retained the evidence of them. Doesn’t have to be writing necessarily. Anything that represents your experiences, your thinking and feeling on certain topics. All those photos of people and places and things that hold meaning and jog memories, yet haven’t seen the light of day in practically FOREVER. Some of it may represent what we now figure are creative failures. False starts. Ancient history.

So now you’ve got a mental image of your piles of creation, content associated with the life you’ve lived and the things you’ve loved (or hated!) and maybe still feel strongly about. It’s gold! It’s also a forgotten fire hazard. Don’t feel too badly. We all have similar piles that we haven’t used for anything.

Another quick show of hands: how many of you are sitting on a mountain of diverse content like I described above, and at the same time you’re wondering how you’re going to make ends meet, effect a career change, or achieve a goal? Or maybe you’re thinking you can’t do what you yearn to because you live in the wrong place and don’t have the right contacts and there’s no opportunity to pursue that interest where you are?

That last option is a favorite of mine. I spent 14 years as an expatriate pondering if where I am is a disadvantage to what I want to do. Content creators feeling this way should take heart. You’re reading the absolute right post.

Here’s my proposal: if we consider that earlier output not as failure or a waste of time, but instead a chain of events that make us who we are today, then we can start to get an idea of the arc of our lives and how what we’ve done in the past can help us get where we want to go in the future. Imagine how this might even help your writing, especially if you’re a memoirist!

How might your opportunities change if you let your content support your aims? What if you were prominently findable in your particular field? Whether you’re positioning yourself to land jobs or funding or a book deal, or you’ve got a completed book or other product or service to sell, it might make great deal of difference to your results. If you’re findable and well-represented, you have a chance. If you’re unknown, unfindable, and a jumbled mess when people DO happen to stumble on you you won’t make much of an impression.

If you haven’t noticed, we’ve entered a golden age for content creators with the rise of the social web, the personality brand platform and the creative entrepreneur movement.

Whatever you want to do, you’ll need help and support. As a published author and cultural producer, I’ve come to understand that an important part of gathering support is going public with your process, to attract like-minded people to your cause and to involve them in your journey. The kind of people who are interested your vision and your way of thinking, parties who can help you develop your plan, the kind of peers and confidants and guides who will form the basis of your network.

Are you intrigued by this notion of wrapping your arms around your content and linking it with your goals but don’t know how? You need to share it far and wide.

I believe so strongly in the content-goals-sharing equation as a foundation for success that as the cofounder of an educational media startup called GlobalNiche.net, my first offering is a program to help content producers like you do just that with the help of the social web, by building your global web platform. You build a platform online to stock with your content. (See an archive of our SUM-it UP mailings on the topic.)

If you’re interested in getting a new perspective on your powers as a content creator in the age of the social web, get on our mailing list. Whether you decide to join us in the SUM-it UP program or not, you’re going to emerge with a new grasp of what constitutes content, ways to capture all that you’ve generated to represent and market yourself online with it, plus a clearer picture of who your right people are, and where you’ll find them on the web, and how they’ll find you.

Content creators, get found.

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Anastasia Ashman is the cofounder of GlobalNiche.net, an educational media company that shows people how to be more visible in the world and how to develop personally and professionally through the use of social web technology and by building their web platforms. Her first program SUM-it UP: mine yourself for purpose & profit starts September 23. Get on the early bird list here for a 25% discount and special gift. Find her on Twitter (@AnastasiaAshman).