Renewed and Refocused

Losing a loved one takes a bigger toll than expected…

Wow. I never thought losing my brother would have affected me as much as it did. It has really made me think just how short and how precious life really is. Tony was only eight years older than me…

As a memoir writer, I am already pretty sentimental when it comes to remembering the things that have transpired during my lifetime. The book that I have been diligently writing — S.E.V.E.N.: Saving Every Vow, Even Now — has taken on a new outlook due to the loss of my brother. I have put a different spin on the writing, making it more upbeat and powerful. As well, I have also decided to make my book stand out from the crowd by laying it out in a unique fashion. But, I’m not ready to let that cat out of the bag yet…

At the funeral, some of the residents from the apartment building where Tony lived came to pay their respects. One of the residents got up and said a few words. In her two minute speech, she told of a side of my brother that I was aware of but not fully aware. This woman told a story of a man who was kind, caring, and compassionate. Someone who had taught himself to knit and who had knit two blankets for other residents and was working on a third when he passed away. She told the story of a man who did all in his power to bring joy to the residents through sharing his time, talents, and skills — hosting raffles in the building, checking in on the other residents and assisting them however he could. Simply put, he loved unconditionally everyone who crossed his path and he spread this love and the joy it brings in an unrestricted and unrestrained manner.  He gave fully of himself not one, but all of the talents that God bestowed upon him during his lifetime…

In my decision to write memoirs, I also chose to write about topics which are often shunned — infidelity, domestic violence, incest, and the like. Not that all these tragic things happened to me directly, they are part and parcel of whom I am because I have an intimate affiliation with these topics through personal experience of some sort. Hearing that woman speak about my brother Tony and all the gifts he gave back to the universe inspired me to do the same. I realized that I have been blessed with many gifts — coaching, journaling, empowering, and other tools which can be used to uplift those around me. Not only could I write a book that would hopefully inspire and empower others, but I could do a wealth of things which would offer avenues of empowerment to the world. Not everyone is a book reader. By instituting other methods of self help and empowerment, I would be able to reach and assist more people.

From this, S.E.V.E.N. Circle Coaching and the S.E.V.E.N. Circle Sistahs network were born. As a Certified Professional Coach, I specialize in Spiritual and Relationship Coaching. S.E.V.E.N. Circle Coaching is a coaching service designed to empower women and help guide them to the answers they seek, which lie within themselves. The S.E.V.E.N. Circle Sistahs network is an online sacred community for women to circle together to uplift, empower, encourage, and support each other in their transformation journey to True Self. At the Circle, women are provided a safe haven to share and open up with like-minded women, discussing everything from art and creativity, to developing their individual businesses in a loving and supportive environment.

Although the site is still being developed, it is open to the public. I invite all of the women readers of this blog to join me over at S.E.V.E.N. Circle Sistahs. I will be moving the Inspired & Independent Book Club to the network in order to streamline my online presence. However, the W.I.N. at Writing blog will stay intact, as is, bringing up-to-date articles on writing and the writing life. I look forward to seeing you in the Circle as well as here at W.I.N.

Syndication! YES!!

Thank goodness today is Friday! I’ve been holding onto this news all week…

The W.I.N. at Writing blog has been syndicated!!! I was approached last week by the Books Editor of Before It’s News, a web-based news portal that gets 10s of 1000s of visitors daily. The Books Editor asked if I would be willing to allow them to syndicate my blog and pull my feed for the Books section of their site. Well you know I said “heck yeah!” It is truly a honor and a blessing to know that my articles are found to be news worthy by my readers and that Before It’s News feels like the information found here can be beneficial to many more people. Thank you to Sebastian Clouth, Books Editor, and Before It’s News for finding the value in my blog.

Now that W.I.N. at Writing has been syndicated, I would love to start having a guest blogger once a month to write an article either on the topic of self publishing or memoir writing. However, if you’d like to submit an article on another topic related to the writing industry, I would be open to hear your suggestions as well. I am currently developing this part of my blogging life; but, if you are interested in being one of my guest bloggers in the future, please post a comment below and we will connect and get you scheduled.

On another note, the Inspired & Independent Book Club officially kicked off today! It’s not too late to join us in this month’s book reading — Chasing Superwoman: A Working Mom’s Adventure in Life and Faith by Sarah DiMickele. The Book Club has divided the book into 4 easy-to-read sections and one section is read each week. We then post our thoughts on that week’s section, with no spoilers if you read ahead, and at the end of the month we give a summary of our reading experience with the book in its entirety. Hop on over and join us. Christine and I have already posted our thoughts on the first week’s reading section.

Lastly, today is Day 1 of CampNaNoWriMo. I am doing CampNaNo this year, at least the June camp…haven’t decided if I’ll do the August camp as well. That’s 50,000 words written in a 30 day period. I am in a cabin with 5 others and we will be supporting and cheering each other on throughout the next 30 days of intensive writing. I hope to be able to finish my first draft by the end of camp, which I’m sure will be more than 50k words. That’s my goal so that I can then start the editing process and get this book published by the end of the year. If anyone is willing to read the finished first draft manuscript sometime in July of this year to give me your input, please let me know.

Whew! Lot’s of news for Friday Frivolities… More is better, so I ain’t complaining LOL!!! Have a GREAT weekend and I will “see” you all on Monday!

Guest Poet: K.A.O.T.I.K. THOUGHT, Poem: Purpose

Today I am pleased to bring you a poem by W.I.N. at Writing’s guest poet, K.A.O.T.I.K. THOUGHT. This poet is an entrepreneur as well as someone who upholds the principles of this blog — Writing to Inspire and Nurture. One of BUSS-Radio’s “BUSS Drivers”, he can be found running his artist management company (OBM Enterprises & Studios) and hosting his Internet radio show. Look for K.A.O.T.I.K. THOUGHT at the Collective Minds House Music Festival, Labor Day weekend in Druid Hill Park — Baltimore Maryland, as host of the Cultural Arts stage. For a video of K.A.O.T.I.K. THOUGHT performing another one of his spoken word pieces, The King Within, visit OBM Enterprise’s YouTube website.

PURPOSE

A twister for your brain, of course all the words will sound the same.
At the end of this poem wont you please tell me my name?
You dont know me from Adam tho you judge me as if you do.
You seem as if my very existence is a bother to you.
I go about my day, I bother no one I stay in my lane.
For the world passes me by I am numb due to my pain.
Some mistakes were made and opportunities were missed.
I had no idea things would turn out quite like this.
I speak to myself mostly dwelling on my regrets.
And because you dont see me I cant get proper respect?
Nobody is perfect who the hell are you to judge?
You don’t know how I got here maybe I should be the one with the grudge
See thats what happens when ignnorance ir present, we must brake this chain
you’re so wrapped up in you, you cant even see another’s pain.
Is it your clothes, cars or money that makes you think you’re so great?
And I’m supposed to be nobody because I don’t have your material items and cant remember the last time I ate?
Your position in life is just that, where you are.
Your zip code and income tax don’t make me a derelict and you a star.
The energy you burn being negative could have a more positive use.
My possession’s are minimal and I’m not ignorant like you so whats your excuse?
You don’t see me because you judge based upon my surface
My experiences in life could have been grand, only Allah (swt) knows their purpose.
I may have knowledge that will help you grow.
I’m talking about your spirituality, centering yourself not your portfolio.
So judge not based upon the surface
For all of Allah’s (swt) creations have purpose.
Your purpose is not greater than mine nor is mine greater than yours
Drop the negative! you blocking your blessings look at all those open windows and doors.
See we can block our blessings by the way that we live
They come in many forms and sometimes the size is determined by what you give.
I am at the end of the twister that is for your brain
So wont you please tell me my name?

K.A.O.T.I.K. THOUGHT
(Keep All OldSkool Traditions In Konscious Thought)

Writing Through the Pain

I “win” at writing — I write to inspire and nurture… My writing aims to empower and uplift. Some people may classify some of my works as “self help.” Most of my writing is drawn from personal experience, and thus puts it in the classification of memoir.

Writing memoir is hard. Hard because it means you will be dredging up memories. Memories that are sometimes difficult to re-live. I am currently working on a two-book memoir which deals with infidelity. The writing is bringing up some heart wrenching, traumatic, and painful memories for me. How do you continue writing through this pain?

It is difficult. My subject is a very sensitive one. Writing reminds me of my experiences with this subject and the pain and destruction it causes. As a writer, it is already quite difficult to get the words on to the page. Fighting with your inner critic, fighting the urge to edit as you write rather than “get it down, then get it right” as Don Fry would instruct, distractions of home/work/life, writer’s block — the list of road blocks is monumental. Add to that writing from the heart on a topic that brings back painful memories and you have one great recipe for not making it to the printing press…

How then does one avoid the pitfalls and continue writing — to completion — a memoir with harsh memories?

The answers are many. As many as there are writers of memoir. Each writer handles things differently with one common thread — writing. They continue to write through the pain. They push forward and get the pain out of their minds and hearts and onto the page. But for me, this doesn’t always work…especially with my chosen topic. Sometimes the pain is too great to write through and one must take a break. So how do you prevent the necessary emotional breaks from stalling the writing process?

Write about something different…

Rather than take a mindless break that would have most writers lost for hours surfing the Internet or doing laundry (procrastination techniques 101), take a writing break:

  • Write and schedule your blog post for the next several days or weeks.
  • Edit your NaNoWriMo from 2011.
  • Try your hand at romance novel writing.
  • Start your first mystery trilogy.
  • Just don’t stop writing…

Change what you are writing about. I took on the ScriptFrenzy challenge for the first time this year. Failed miserably! But having another thing to write gave me something I could escape to while continuing to write… I was able to take a break from the pain of recalling the memories yet I kept writing. For me, this makes it an easier transition back to the hard task at hand. If I took a break by not writing anything, it would be much harder for me to pick the pen up again and get going. It is hard enough putting “butt in chair” and starting in the first place. To stop writing, especially when writing something emotionally difficult, would hurt far more than it would help.

My advice — keep writing. Write through the pain in the manuscript if you can. If the pain of writing is jetting you toward putting down your pen and doing laundry, switch gears and brush up on your screenwriting. Or start your first paranormal romance. Take a stab at fiction writing if you consider yourself a nonfiction writer. Whatever you do —

Keep writing…

Time to share…
How do you make it through writing about difficult subjects, ones that cause you emotional distress and/or hurt? What advice can you give to other writers who run up against this same issue?

Creative Nonfiction

A genre that contains many other genres…

The lines can blur and it can sometimes be hard to tell which way to categorize your writing if you are a creative nonfiction writer. I often struggle with where my writing fits in. Memoirs, personal essays, travel writing and the like have come to be considered as creative nonfiction. In my opinion, empowerment books — books that often tell the “struggle to triumph” story of the author — are creative nonfiction. The author is telling the story of how they came from X to become or do Y and how you too can be successful in the same vein. However, there has to be creativity in telling that story.

Without employing the nuances of creative writing, your nonfiction story is going to be dry, dull, and flat. A writer must embellish their story to keep it interesting, without changing the actual facts of the story. And by embellish, I don’t mean to add in non-truths or sensationalize the story; I simply mean using words and descriptions in such a way that the story maintains the interest of the reader. This is creative nonfiction.

Creative nonfiction combines the creative mind of a fiction writer with the aptitude for relaying fact in great detail as in journalism. A journalist must report the facts. She also must report the facts in such a way that she keeps the readers’ interest. Think of a memoir. The author is relating a memory from a slice of time in his life. The memory’s details are accurately recalled. The descriptions and telling of that recollection is done such that the reader is transported into the location where the memory is being recalled from. The two — detail and description — meld together seamlessly and shape the final work…

As a writer of creative nonfiction, it is important that you stick to the facts. It is also important that you keep the reader reading page-by-page and not skipping through. Author Iyanla Vanzant uses very colorful depictions of the struggles she’s had in life. She keeps the reader engaged and interested, while still maintaining the true details of what she went through. Now don’t shoot me — I have never researched whether or not the stories Ms. Vanzant relays in her books are truly what happened to her in her life. I take her word for it, as most readers take the word of the author who has written the words. Nonetheless, her books do a few things well —

  1. They give the “struggle to triumph” details accurately.
  2. They relate the story in a way which keeps the reader reading.
  3. They empower the reader to ACT.

Very important in creative nonfiction — accurately reporting the details, keeping the reader’s attention, and empowerment. Ms. Vanzant has Written to Inspire and Nuture. She W.I.N.s and her readers do too!

For those who want to inspire people, if you want to empower people, if you want to nudge someone gently into action, then creative nonfiction is an excellent genre in which to write.

Write to Inspire and Nurture…

Everyone has the ability to write. Many many folks aspire to become published authors. With the advent of the self-publishing revolution and the lessening of the stigma that was associated with self-publishing, many more folks have jumped into the writing arena. Some good and some not so good… And yes, there is still a stigma attached to self-publishing, but that’s not today’s topic.

I believe that writing should be done for more purposes then to tell a good story. Nothing at all wrong with storytelling…but what message are you trying to convey with your story? Every story – fiction or nonfiction — can and should be written to inspire and nurture. Think of Harry Potter. Weren’t those stories inspirational? Didn’t they convey a positive message of teamwork and friendship to accomplish the impossible? Didn’t they inspire you to cheer on the main character?

That is what writing is about for me. Empowering the reader in whatever ways possible. Uplifting them and exciting them. Nurturing the dreams, aspirations, and ideals the reader holds inside of him- or herself. Spurring them to act if action is necessary. Encouraging them to dream and to get busy obtaining those dreams. That is why I write.

Empowerment.

One simple word with very strong and positive meanings. I write to inspire and nurture. I WIN at Writing, and when an author W.I.N.s, we all win.