The Wattpad Decision

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Over the last five years, I’ve written a novel, several poetry collections, and have multiple WIPs scattered across my hard drive. My muse is inspired and very active and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

However, the pile of rejections and changes in my day job have caused me to re-think my goals when it comes to writing. Do I want to be published in the traditional way? Sure, but I don’t think that’s in the cards for me.

I don’t say this because I have doubts in my ability to write. Nor do I question how much I love writing. My doubt lies more in playing the publishing game. It’s a tough industry and I find myself caught between hating to fail and knowing when I’ve hit my limit.

Over the last six months, I’ve been rejected more than I care to mention. It’s demoralizing to say the least, especially when I love the novel I’m pitching, (This has been the trend for not just the last six months, but the last 5 years). On the poetry front, it’s been a little more positive with good stats for my haiku blog and a strong showing in nation wide competition, but I’m still left wanting what every writer wants … readers.

During the same six months, my day job has taken off in ways I never expected. Achieving National Board Certification turned out to be a much bigger deal than I thought and it’s opened doors I didn’t even know existed. In the next school year, I’ll be taking on a new administrative role that comes with new responsibilities. I’m excited and passionate about doing more for my school and students.

When I sat down and put all these pieces together, I realized when I’m finding more success at the day job, the dream job has to change shape! I’ve looked into self publishing on various platforms, but the more research I did, the more I realized it just isn’t for me. The amount of time needed for things other than actually writing the book is far more than I have available!

Then, I discovered Wattpad. It’s a mix of social media and online publishing that allows writers and readers to interact. However, the appeal for me is the ability to publish a book that is accessible on any device with the Wattpad app. It reads like an eBook and allows readers to comment as they read. There are pros and cons like any other platform, but I like the wide audience (65 million members), the support features for writers, and the connections it has with the publishing industry.

I’ve decided to give Wattpad a try by starting with some small poetry collections. If I like the results, I may choose to go a little further. The endgame for me is to release my work out in the open and to have a wider readership. The social media aspect is also a selling point – I want more interaction with readers and the chance to interact with other writers beyond the blogosphere, (I love you all here, but it’s not as social!).

I’m pleased to announce my first collection is now available on Wattpad. Threads is a collection of contemporary haiku that explores subtle moments of nature and human existence. It’s a collection I originally created for the 2015 November Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge, but have since edited and refined. It is currently published as an ongoing work, which means I will be adding new poems until the collection is complete.

All you need to read Threads is a Wattpad account. It’s free to join and works on just about every device (laptop, phone, tablet, etc). Click on the cover below and it will take you straight to Threads.

I’m so excited for this new venture, but I will also still be blogging! Stay tuned for poetry, photographs, and musings of a writer.

 

Happy reading!

 

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c.b.w. 2018

Writing Means Failing A Lot

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I am really starting to understand why the word “persistence” comes up so often when writers talk about what it takes to be successful. While decluttering my writing space and organizing files on my hard drive, I faced the eye-opening reality that I’ve been at this writing thing for ten years, (at least in the quasi-professional sense). Ten years. And I don’t have a lot to show for it other than a few teeny tiny publishing credits.

My journals and files say otherwise. I’ve written two novels, more poems than I can count (there are about 1,000 haikus alone), and more than 1,000 blog posts (this one blows my mind the most!). Writing is the easy part. Finding an audience is a little tougher. Getting published feels almost impossible.

My rejection folder is enormous. I have an interesting relationship with this stack of rejection. On one hand, it’s hard not to take it personally. It is after all one agent after another telling me they aren’t interested in what I poured my heart into. On the other, it’s nothing personal. We all have opinions about what we like to read. My only saving grace is that I’ve never had an literary agent tell me my writing sucks and that I should just give up. I know writers get this sometimes and so far I’ve been lucky. It’s just frustrating on so many levels that I can’t seem to break through the barriers.

The soul crushing truth is writing means failing a lot. Not only in the ridiculous number of failed drafts, but in the process as a whole.

Yet, I persist. I’m too stubborn to let the failure win.

I took a little break from the query process to regroup after the last batch of rejections, (30 rejections hit pretty hard). Then, last month I took a writing workshop on query letters and the synopsis. While much of the information wasn’t anything new to me, I still walked away with a renewed sense of purpose. It’s amazing what being among writers in the same situation can do!

This week I sent off a brand new volley of query packages. I must be a glutton for punishment. Most writers seem to be, so I’m in good company. As a matter of fact, I already got my first rejection from this batch. It was pretty swift and painful, but not unexpected.

I’m bracing myself for more to come, but I keep reminding myself I only need one yes. All the no’s don’t matter, it’s the yes I’m after.

Persistence is key.

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c.b.w. 2017

 

It’s Go Time

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It’s been a while since I’ve been able to sit down and seriously work on my writing. The day job was seriously crazy this school year, but that will all come to an end tomorrow (helloooo summer!). Two months off will give me plenty of time to focus on more than just blog posts and scribbling random ideas into my journal. To say I’m excited is an understatement!

The first big project I’ll be working on is dusting off my query package for my novel. And I’m kicking this off in an unconventional way! As it turns out, a trip to Phoenix Comicon will not only be my moment to fangirl until I drop, (the Autograph Ninja will be on the prowl! ), but also a chance to mingle with authors and publishers. This year’s event features workshops with YA authors and pros in the publishing industry. I will be participating in two workshops to up my game in the pitching process. First, I’ll be attending a Q&A session that features a YA author I admire  – Aprilynne Pike, (her Wings Series is amazing!). Attendees can ask anything about their books, writing, or the industry. Second, I’ll be going to a workshop that focuses on pitching and the query letter. This has been a struggle for me (as it is for so many writers), so I’m hoping this event will help me figure out what isn’t working in my query package.

Aside from taking advantage of Comicon opportunities, I’ve also put out some feelers for some freelance work. I thrive on deadlines at my day job, so why not apply that trait to writing? In particular, I’m looking to write about fandoms or television recaps. Not too long ago I wrote about how fangirling has enriched my life, (see Things I’ve Learned From Fangirling) and that got me thinking: Why not turn that passion into something that pushes my writing forward?

Then, there’s the haiku chapbook I’ve been working on since January. This is the one project I’ve been working on consistently despite the day job! I’m about halfway done with selecting the haikus that will be part of the collection. Once I’m done selecting, it’ll come down to the messy business of deciding the order in which they will appear. It’s going to drive me crazy, but I’m looking forward to the process.

Like I said, it’s go time!

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c.b.w. 2017

Oh, The Poetry!

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I’ve been focusing on one item in particular on my 2017 To-Do List – Item #2: Publish Something. While I’ve got a few feelers out there (entries in three contests), I’m looking seriously into self-publishing on the digital platform.

While decluttering some shelves (another item on my to-do list), I found and stacked all of my haiku journals on my writing desk. My intention is to comb through all of them and select fifty poems to include in a digital chapbook.

The idea is to create a chapbook that includes some of my favorite haikus from the last few years.  At this point I have well over a thousand haiku – some have been published on my blogs, while others have not. I’m hoping to create a nice mix between reader favorites (that “Like” button comes in pretty handy!) and my personal favorites.

The selection process has already yielded some interesting insights. It’s amazing how a poem seems good when its first written, but in hindsight you wonder how on earth it even ended up in your journal. If anything, the bad ones make the gems stick out that much more.

It’s also interesting to see how I’ve experimented over the last few years. I started out with strict adherence to the 5-7-5 syllable/line structure, which then shifted to the looser format of less than 14 syllables (12 is usually my target) in three lines. Later experiments with monokus (one line haikus) and senryu are excellent trackers of my anthology reading and research. Admittedly, I’m still figuring out the monoku.

Perhaps the most enlightening thing to see was how my individual voice began to emerge through all the experimentation. While it’s still a work in progress, there is something remarkable about seeing a haiku that only I could write. It took a long time to get this point!

In many ways this project is a culmination of almost three years of constant practice in writing haikus. They are my passion, so creating collection just seems the next natural step.

Stay tuned!

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c.b.w. 2017

 

To Do List: 2017

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I hesitate to make so-called resolutions, but I do love a good to-do list. Instead of making the oh so predictable list of goals for the year, I’m going to dig through the list of things in my head I keep meaning to do. These are things that keep piling up thanks to life getting in the way or they are simply forgotten in the cluttered mess that is my head.

Item #1: Declutter

Give the state of my head, this one makes sense! However, the clutter in my head is only part of the problem. The house is cluttered, My classroom is cluttered. The past is cluttered.

The last one is probably why everything else in my life is full of just too much. After four years of many personal losses, it’s been hard to let things go. The fact that I have awareness and understanding of this fact is why I’m now able to move forward. I no longer need to hold onto so many things to feel anchored. I can let go.

The following areas are where I’m focusing my energy:

Shelves

  • Bookshelves throughout the house. This is actually where I started. On January 1, I cleared out close to 150 books.
  • DVD shelf – we have almost 1,000 DVDs. There’s no way we need that many. Clearly, we love TV and Movies, but I know there are quite a few duds on the shelf!
  • CD Shelf – Same deal as the DVD shelf. There is some weird stuff on this shelf and it’s time to sift out the duds.

Closets: There’s too much of just about everything: blankets, sheets, clothes, shoes, etc.

  • master closet
  • linen closet
  • hobby closet

Hobby/Guest Room

  • Multiple shelves jammed with stuff (not even sure what)
  • Barbie Collection – I have close to a hundred dolls, but I want the collection to be more streamlined to reflect my love of vintage and vintage-look dolls. So far, I’ve pulled 21 dolls to give away or sell. 

Writing Area

  • One of the biggest culprits of clutter are old journals, multiple novel drafts, and writing reference books. A lot of this comes from figuring out who I am as a writer. I’ve figured it out and now it’s time to sort through the paper trail and discard what no longer matters, (i.e. rough drafts, journals full of scribbles).

Classroom

  • Supply closet – OMG. So much stuff has landed here over 17 years.
  • Storage area in department office – started this last year, but more work needs to be done

Item #2: Publish Something

Over the last couple of years, I’ve written over a thousand haiku. I think it’s about time to put together a chapbook or two! I’m probably going to self-publish using a digital platform. There are so many options out there, many of which are free, so I don’t have much of an excuse not to do this!

The same goes for my novel. I’m going to get back into the game of sending out query packages, but I’m also going to dig deeper into research regarding self-publishing outlets. It’s time to get this done!

Item #3: Read 35 Books

As I have for the last five years, I’ve once again joined the Goodreads Reading Challenge.

Item #4: Survive National Board Certification

The road to National Board Certification has been brutal. It is not fun navigating a newly rolled out process because there are so many unknowns. Previously certified teachers can’t really help, nor can the coaches. I have one more component to finish and hopefully it will be enough to not only survive, but achieve National Board Certification.

Item #5: Take Better Care of Myself

I need to eat better, sleep better, and leave more stress at the door. I let the day job invade much too large of a space in my life and it’s time to push it back to where it belongs: at work.

Item #6: Go Somewhere

I miss traveling. It’s time for another adventure. 🙂

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What’s on your To Do List for 2017?

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c.b.w. 2017