Posted in Blogging, Writing

I Love my Own Voice: Confessions of a Narcissistic Writer

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I love the sound of my own writing voice. I can listen to my composed words all day long, like a favorite Bruce Springsteen song. I especially enjoy reading aloud to myself. During these private performances, I literally laugh and cry at my own words, pat myself on the back, and swoon over a lovely phrase. What I adore most about my writing voice is how lyrical, poetic, punny, and funny I think it is.

I am not bragging but am complaining. My voice vanity sacrifices substance and meaning. I confess: I am a sinner of word pride, a glutton for longer sentences, greedy for witty and lavish phrases. I kill stories. I am a killer.

I am skilled at murdering plots. I fire guns filled with fluff and random bullet points that scatter irrelevant details like shrapnel. I chop up focus and sink story arcs. Then I abandon entire worlds that I create. I violently shove the underdeveloped pages into a folder that I lock in a box, slam into a drawer, and starve in a basement. I can bury a body of work without anyone ever knowing. I am a sneaky, garrulous monster.

I brainstorm ideas, outline plots, write about 10,000 words then get confused. I lose focus, so I usually give up. Why do I kill so many stories? I think my frilly, rambling writing voice is the main culprit. I call her Fancy Nancy.

I write lyrical, artsy prose that tends to stall the story. I waste too much time on wordplay then lose interest in the piece. Still, Fancy Nancy tempts me and I write: I ceaselessly practice to compose a symphony of melodious sentences filled with scales of ABC’s until the score becomes too lengthy and twangs with discordance. When reciting these musical lines, I can’t help but exclaim, “Bravo!”clap

Then I feel a need to say it another crafty way: I paint stunning phrases better suited for a centerfold than a plot diagram. “Ooh, la la!”

I can’t stop myself: I am a word warrior who blasts the page with exploding metaphors and onomatopoeia. “Bam!”

Here’s another song: I’m a master at choreographing a scene that tap dances the keyboard with personification? “Click, click, click!”

What the hell? It took me two hours to come up with that stuff, a bunch of disconnected images of me being a wordy writer: composer, painter, soldier, and dancer. Before that, I was a sinner and killer. These lines are fun to write, but they make for a recipe that’s hard to follow and swallow. (Add rhyming cook to the list.)

What to say to the amateur who dabbles too much in the italicized, verbose passages? “Dammit, Donna! Just tell the story already.” (Although my mother considered naming me Nancy, my real name is Donna and nickname is Sunshine, and I know this is random, but I thought you would like to know how I refer to myself as “Dammit Donna” when I need a scolding reminder to focus, get it together, and quit screwing up. I call out to “her” daily. Hmm.“Dammit, Donna” would be a good name for a book title.  I write book titles more than books.  I could write a whole book of book titles.)

Dammit, Donna!

I’m trying to clean up the clever clutter and stick with storylines, but it’s a true challenge. The best approach is to write less and cut more. Oh, how it pains me to weed though. What if I accidentally pluck the best words, my pretty little flowers?

That’s where Dammit Donna needs to swoop in, display the blooms, elsewhere, like in a vase, and move on to more meaningful tasks.

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I really can’t stop the playful metaphoric ramblings, can I? I actually talk this way though. I have writer’s eyes, so I want to share the world with you the way I see it (Okay, now that line just made me cry proud tears.) My habit would be to go on and on about eyes, but I’m going to stop, and trust that you get it.

I don’t need to be a parrot, but I’m a mother and teacher who has to repeat, reiterate, restate, rephrase, echo, echo, echo… I AM wordy! (FYI – my quiet husband can successfully parent with one word, “No!” compared to my breathless arguments with our teenagers.)

I’ve received a lot of professional and constructive criticism about my writer’s voice. College professors told me I was trying too hard to sound like an English teacher, even though I majored in English education. An agent told me the first two pages of a book were too clever. An editor claimed I was too funny with too many punch lines. Ha! At first, this might seem like praise, but they quantified their comments with “too.” I get what they were saying. “Don’t over do it. Stay focused. Dammit, Donna, just tell the story already!”

Bruce Cherry, my Gotham Writers instructor for “Essay and Opinion Writing” offered this feedback concerning my voice:

You have a very exuberant way of using language that helps to convey the passion you feel. It dances right at the edge of becoming perhaps too florid once in awhile, but it’s really a matter of personal taste. Your writing style reminds me of the recordings of the great blues players like Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters who went electric at Chess Studios in the 50’s and 60’s. They would play so exuberantly that they would occasionally cause compression in the mics and push the VU meters into the red–technically a big no-no. But they used the sound of that compression as an element of the recording, and it became a signature sound. Technically speaking, they were going too far, but they refused to be constrained by convention. So definitely use it to your advantage.

Second to rock and roll, I treasure the blues, so what an amazing comparison! My take-away from this is to amp up my signature sound when it works to my advantage. Although, I’m retraining to write more concisely, I’m not entirely abandoning my florid voice. I will continue to decorate pages but in moderation. Fancy Nancy needs to focus less on beauty tricks and more on working diligently with Dammit Donna. *The two voices need to be friends so I can author more pieces that an audience bigger than myself craves.

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The author in me needs to help balance Fancy Nancy and Dammit Donna.

I will continue to read my works aloud and praise them. Next time, I’ll set my voice to some background music, the blues. I’ll make a date with me. I’ll have wine and Muddy Waters and cherish the beautiful AND purposeful words resurrecting my stories. It will be delightful. I will be a better writer, not a killer.

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Getting ready for a date with me, Muddy, and my manuscript.

*My first book, The Pencil Sharpener, is being published by The Wild Rose Press.  It’s release date is July 26, 2017, and will be made available through The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.com. The Pencil Sharpener is a novella, a rosette, in which my editor, Melanie Billings, and a team of professionals helped me polish my prose into a piece I’m proud of and looking forward to sharing with you. I’ll blog more details soon.  Shine on!  ThePencilSharpener_w11567_ib (1)

Posted in Blogging, Social Media, Technology, Writing

Technical Difficulties: Building a Blogging Platform, one Story, Tweet, and Pin at a Time

I am not a tech savvy person.  Quite frankly, I feel like Wilma Flintstone when it comes to staying caught up in the information age.  One might think that I’d be more like Jane Jetson. After all, I am a cyber teacher, run this blog, teach at an iPad high school, can publish online school newspapers, and live with a techie husband and two teenagers whose thumbs can text a novel before I can get my iPhone friend Siri to define “streaking” on Snap Chat (FYI – does not involve opening up a trench coat to your birthday suit).

img_0483I am trying to build my blogging platform, but I get completely overwhelmed and distracted with all the social networks. Sometimes I want to give up, unplug, and build puzzles instead (with real cardboard pieces).

I read that to get more blogging “followers” I need to tap into social media beyond my WordPress Blog.  Here is what I know, which is minimal:

I’m pretty good at  Facebook and have been a FB Friend for years. Beyond my timeline, I started a Page. I’m still learning how to boost organic traffic to my Page.  I once paid five extra dollars to get more readers and it made me feel cheap and dirty (like opening up a trench coat to my birthday suit).  I refuse to try buying social media friends ever again. *There are better ways.  

As for Twitter, I have an account but barely know how to Twit. #whatisahashtag

I made one single Youtube video but forget how to access my account, so if you want to hear me playing the harmonica you will need to click here.

Pinterest truly is “the world’s catalog of ideas.” I have an old Pinterest account that I avoided using because I didn’t want to get addicted to pinning. After opening up the Pandora’s Box of everything that could potentially interest me, I am indeed hooked.  I just spent over an hour looking up sweaters for hairless hamsters.  Yes, there are some amazingly dressed hamsters out there.  After reading an article about making these little rodents cozy, I was asked to vote to promote the adorableness. Then I created this category on Pinterest.  Click the link for: Hairless Hamsters Need Clothes.  What in the hamster hell is going on here?  

Last Saturday, I spent most of my afternoon creating an Instagram account.  I thought I could get an App for it on my Mac, but there isn’t one.  I do not yet understand what a “story” is and how to stop “loving” my own pictures.  I asked my teenager for help, several times, and she frustratingly told me she was going to delete my account if I didn’t quit asking her so many questions.  I’m not sure how to promote my blog through Instagram anyhow so that medium might have to sit on the back burner.  You know what else has to sit on the back burner? A hairless hamster without his sweater, freezing his cheeks off.   

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My Very First Instagram Photo

I have so much to learn!   From tweets, streaks, and pins to widgets, links, and  posts. The technological jargon alone is mind boggling.  Luckily, I stumbled across a course called “WordPress for Writers” that started yesterday.  I paid $49 and signed up for it hoping for some extra blogging guidance.  I’ll let you know how it goes.   

While I tune in with technology, I’ll keep writing my stories and sharing with all who hop on to my horizon.  It’s a little too late to start pounding out tales on a rock tablet, so I gotta just keep moving forward.  

If you haven’t followed yet, please enter your email (via WordPress), so you don’t miss out on the part-time sunshine I hope to deliver.    

*If you are my FB Friend and you enjoy this blog could you share it with your FB Friends, and then your friends can be my friends, and we can all sing about it?  Thanks in advance for SHARING my FB Page on your Timeline:  Tales from a Part-Time Sunshine Kindly ask your friends to LIKE the Page.  If you still haven’t responded to your Invite to “Like” that page, give a thumbs up and feel the warmth.

Shine on!