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Writing Batteries

September 15, 2022 by in category Writing tagged as ,

I published my very first book, Mac and Cheese, Please, Please, Please, in July of 2020. While there are obvious downsides to accomplishing this milestone in the middle of a pandemic, in some ways I think the pandemic made it possible for me to focus on making this dream a reality.

I should preface this blog post by saying that I know my experience certainly wasn’t the same experience that everyone had in 2020. My day job was by no means considered “essential work”, and I will always have a deep appreciation for all of the people who were essential throughout the pandemic.

My job on the other hand, slowed down. Like way down. While other parts of my life got more complicated, like distanced learning for my kiddos, writing somehow became less complicated. I found myself with more time to focus on it, and my proverbial writing batteries were still fully charged at the end of the workday.

The pandemic also served as a grim and constant reminder that this life is short. I found myself no longer caring about the reception others might have to my writing and I just bleeping did it

Fast-forward two years and thankfully my attitude hasn’t wavered much, but I find those writing batteries have a very small charge by the end of the day.

I appreciate this community and I enjoy hearing all your stories on perseverance in writing, rewriting, finding consistency, and keeping those batteries charged. Thank you!

Photo by Daniel Korpai on Unsplash
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A Book About Macaroni and Cheese

August 15, 2022 by in category Writing tagged as , , , ,

So, I wrote a book about macaroni and cheese. It wasn’t something I ever planned to do, but like all happy accidents in life, I sure am glad it happened the way it did.  

While writing has always been a passion of mine, and a muscle that I frequently flex during my day job, it wasn’t until a daycare pick-up one fateful afternoon in 2019 that propelled me on the path of writing a children’s book.

One sunny afternoon, I picked the kiddos up from school and asked them what sounded good for dinner. They immediately responded with what I already knew they would say, “Mac and cheese, please, please, please”.  I turned the words over in my head the whole seven-minutes it took for us to get home.

I decided to give into their demands that day and make a box of macaroni and cheese, because it had been AT LEAST three days since they’d last had it [Insert parenting eye-roll].

I kid you not… In the time it took me to make a box of macaroni and cheese, I had scribbled out a children’s book.

I can still picture it in all its felt-tip marker and wide ruled notebook glory. I read it to my kids while they shoveled the orange noodles into their mouths; giving me nods of approval.

It didn’t come as a total surprise that a random lightening bolt of inspiration had struck me. After all, I’d been creative writing and plotting storylines on paper and in my head for years. I just had never guessed that it would come in the form of a children’s book, much less a children’s book about macaroni and cheese. Yet, here we are!

That’s the origin story of my book, which just celebrated its two-year birthday last month.

The absolute best part of having a book about macaroni and cheese is when I get a picture or Snapchat from my little Mac and Cheese Army out there. I had a friend reach out and tell me that her three-year-old accurately explained that they were having “elbow noodles” for dinner. These moments always serve as a good reminder to listen to those random lightening bolts of inspiration, especially since my little Mac and Cheese Army demands more. 

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A ‘Wrich” Experience

June 15, 2022 by in category The Write Life by Rebecca Forster tagged as , , ,

STATION WAGONS & STORYTELLING:

The first time my parents piled all of my siblings and me into an old station wagon without air conditioning and drove us to the desert for and August ‘vacation’, I was hooked on travel. It didn’t matter that it was 120 degrees in the shade, that the hotel was cheap, and that only one coffee shop remained open in the days before universal air conditioning. At nine years old, that humble vacation embedded itself in my brain and made me a traveler and a storyteller. I remember the heat from my burned skin (before sunscreen). I remember having ‘peeling’ contests with my brothers. My yellow swimsuit had white flowers on it. The sun went through the white leaving my torso stamped with brown patches. I was sure I was dying. It took my mother an hour to convince me I was simply tanned.

On the way home, we saw three giant, realistic dinosaur structures looming in the middle of the desert, each many stories high. Intrigued, we convinced my father to stop.  There was a small door in the leg of the Tyrannosaurs Rex that opened onto a dark, narrow stairway leading to the belly of the beast. An old man lived inside the dinosaur. He waited patiently for people to stop. When they did he sold them shark’s teeth and turquoise. I loved the idea of a man living in a dinosaur.

I came home from that trip with the sights and sounds, the tastes and smells, the memories of the people I met embedded in my bones. Every travel experience is like that for me, and all these things eventually show up in a book.

MEETING OF THE MINDS

That brings me to the here and now. A month ago, I went to Sedona, Arizona, a place of stunning views, breathtaking nature hikes, and magical Vortices. It is also where a frustrated psychic healer once told me that he couldn’t tell my future because I had a bad aura. He gave me my money back. I was bummed.

However, my future turned out okay. I returned home with some lovely memories and a new friend. Her name is Renae Wrich. I was walking around the pool —heaven forbid I actually swim and exercise—wearing my favorite baseball cap. I forget that it is emblazoned with the word ‘WRITER’. Renae waded through the water to ask if I wrote. Once we determined we were both writers, the conversation marathon began. We talked about writing and publishing, managing a family and juggling work while we pursue our passion.

PASSING THE BATON

When I knew that I would be stepping down from my monthly Slice of Orange post (yes, I’ll be on an extended trip), I asked if I could replace myself. Renae was my first choice. She had just published Mac and Cheese Please, Please,Please, a children’s book and is setting her sights on romance. I envy her the journey in this brave new world of words and technology. I can’t wait to read her thoughts on writing as she builds her career works and raises her children. 

So, I have had the honor of enjoying my Renae Wrich experience standing in a pool in Sedona, Arizona. I know you’ll love getting to know her too. Welcome Renae! Thank you for accepting the baton. Until our paths cross again, I’ll be following along with all your new Slice of Orange fans.

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Mental Reset for Writers After Receiving Contest Results

May 12, 2022 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , ,

I always have to pause and reset after receiving contest results. Am I the only one who experiences this?

blog post title graphic with picture of a blank journal with hand ready to write and words underneath that say mental reset for writers after receiving contest results

Contests are wonderful ways to get feedback, get in front of agents or publishers, and stretch yourself as a writer. I have entered many and have grown as a writer because of the them. 

But every time when the contest results are out, I’m so afraid of opening up the email and reading the comments. And this year was no different. 

Last week I received my contest results email from the 2022 ACFW Genesis Contest. I did not semi-final like I did back in 2019. For a brief moment, that right there makes it hard. Did I go backwards? Shouldn’t I have not made the changes that were in the suggestions?

But alas, I can’t do that to myself.

Contest Results Do Not Tell The Entire Story

I’ve had many pairs of eyes look over my entry and the overall feedback has been positive. And as I look at the scores from the three judges, two loved it and had very little comments (one even scored it a 99 out of 100, which is something to celebrate). But the third judge. It was obvious, my style of book is not their cup of tea. And even though two out of the three were positive, it’s still such a hard pill to swallow.

Is this what it feels like to read reviews of your work?

It probably is, and maybe you have to have a mental reset after reading those too.

But keep in mind some things. What’s being judged is such a small snippet (for me it was 15 pages). Not everyone will have the same opinion (which is why there are so many different authors and books available).

So What Do You Do To Move Forward?

I’m still figuring that out. For me, I needed to give myself a few days. Then dive right back into my manuscript. Keep editing, keep writing, and work toward the next opportunity when it presents itself. Pay attention to the things where multiple people gave similar feedback. And remember the positive comments (and the fact I earned a 99 from someone!).

I even wore this shirt to help me get back into a good frame of mind.

T-shirt with the words write on

I think it’s also important to relook at the comments and feedback a few times over a period of time. Each time they sink in more. They are not as personal. And there’s something in there that you can use. After a little while, you are ready to figure out how to adapt the feedback you want to include into your manuscript.

If any of you are struggling, I encourage you. You are not the only one. And as a seasoned contest results receiver, it is never easy. But putting our work out there is never easy. Yet we trail on, because our stories are more than our feelings. They are our work (my word for the year!). And it takes work (lots and lots of work) to get them into the best shape possible before we release them.

Hang in there. Keep writing. Write On!

Denise

Denise M. Colby loves to write words that encourage, enrich, & engage. Every year, she chooses a word to focus on. Her 2021 word was Wisdom and her 2022 word is Work. She talks about how one turned into the other in her blog at denisemcolby.com. If you’d like to see more of Denise’s posts on this blog, you can check out her archives.

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When Our Confidence In Our Writing Wavers

April 12, 2022 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby, Writing tagged as , , ,

Have you ever had your confidence in your writing waver? Years ago I wrote something that really helped me in a very heavy doubt period. As I was discussing confidence in his artwork with my college-age son recently, I went and found this to encourage him to believe in himself. I needed the reminder as well. And I decided to share it with all of you too.

Blog Header with laptop computer, notebook, and person writing, with title When Confidence In Your Writing Wavers

Originally published on denisemcolby.com on June 6, 2017

This morning I was reading in 2 Corinthians and the following verse made me stop and pause, so I wrote it down on my handy 3×5 index card for future reference:

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.     2 Corinthians 3:5

I want to be a writer. Notice I said I want to, not I am.

I’ve only been writing things for over twenty years – either marketing copy or fiction stories. No matter which, the reality is I struggle with believing in myself. Having confidence in my writing. My takeaway from this verse is God’s telling me if I believe in him, I need to believe in myself.

After getting the kids off to school, I took a walk and the verse rattled around in my head. But for some reason the key word competence turned into the word confidence (I wonder who put that there?). As I mulled around thoughts about confidence, I knew I needed to come home and look up the word in the dictionary.

I love words. Definitions, synonyms – all of it. I also love seeing connections words have with other words.  So here’s what the website http://www.dictionary.com says about

CONFIDENCE: full trust; belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance:

And I love the example they gave in a sentence: His lack of confidence defeated him.

Is my lack of confidence in my abilities as a writer defeating me?

I think about my writing and the nudges I have had over the past five years and I know without a doubt God wants me to do this, otherwise doors would’ve closed on me long ago. However I’m not fully doing what he wants me to do because I have not had the confidence to just do it.

I’ve been saying for a while now, I would like to write devotionals. I have this strong innate desire to share hope, encouragement and God’s Word with others. What I haven’t been sure about is the how and what. So I haven’t done it, period.

When I took my walk this am something clicked and I couldn’t wait to get back home because I needed to do this right now. God has confidence in me. He has given me the desire. He’s nudging me to do this. Why have I not done this? Why?

I’m afraid – that’s why. What am I so afraid of? Putting myself out there? Looking like an idiot? Is that confidence then? I know I’m not looking for accolades, not looking for stardom. I just want to write and share my heart. But I’ve been too scared to do that. I have lacked confidence to go for it.

Then I saw the Synonyms for confidence – 1. faith, reliance, dependence.

And the Antonym – 1. mistrust.

Wow!

In a nutshell, my lack of confidence in myself (lack of faith) and the abilities God has given me (lack of faith, dependence) are holding me back from sharing something he wants me to share.

My lack of confidence is holding me back in my writing

I’m not really trusting God then, am I? If I have faith, I should have confidence in what he’s asking me to do. And I need to depend on Him when I do it.

So here I am today. Writing a devotional and setting up a specific devotional page on my website. Only God knows what will happen. I just need to have the confidence to do it (already the nagging doubts are creeping in). I must rely on God with the rest.

But wait, there’s more. When I grabbed my Bible to write in the verse, I realized I made a mistake (was it really?) and the word was competence not confidence. Oh no! Do I scrap what I just wrote? Does it even relate? See maybe I shouldn’t be doing this after all. I paused for a moment then decided to look it up:

COMPETENCE: having suitable or sufficient skill, knowledge, experience, etc., for some purpose; properly qualified:

And the Synonym: 1. fit, capable, proficient.

No antonym. Interesting. There is no negative/opposite of being competent.  You either are or you are not. I may not be the best writer, but I know I am proficient. So what am I waiting for?

Then I looked at 2 Corinthians 3:4 Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God.

If God has given you skills – you are capable to use them for his glory. You just need to have the confidence through Him to do it. 

What abilities (competence) has God given you?  Where do you put your confidence?  In your own efforts, schedule, skills, voices in your head? Or do you trust God?  Do you have the confidence to put yourself out there with whatever it is?

God has given us all skills. We are all competent in something. Being competent does not need to mean you are the best at something.

Being competent means you are proficient. You can get the job done.

We should have confidence in our writing if we are proficient enough

We let our own voices tell us we are not competent because we think we need to be the best or someone does it better than us and we let it affect our confidence which in turn affects what we do.    

Everyone’s path is different and God has one he wants you to follow. He has given you these skills for a reason. You just have to have confidence in Him that He is with you every step of the way.

God believes in you and I believe in you too!

Denise M. Colby loves to write encouraging words. You can read other posts by Denise in her archives here on A Slice of Orange

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