The Instagram Experiment

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I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures even though I’m not the most talented photographer out there. I never set out to be – let’s make that very clear. My usual philosophy is to simply point the camera at something pretty and the rest will take care of itself. Sometimes it works, but most of the time ….. not so much!

My first look at Instagram blew me away. There are so many amazing photographers out there and quite honestly I found it intimidating. Plus, I don’t do selfies, so that ruled out another huge part of Instagram. So, I didn’t join.

It all changed this summer, when I decided I didn’t really care what anyone else thought of my pictures. I just wanted to have fun with my camera and play with the idea of snapping random photographs. If anything, I was infinitely curious of what I would do. Call it an experiment of the self, if you will.

The results of my little experiment surprised me. I didn’t expect it to be such a cathartic experience, nor did I expect it to mirror another element of my life so closely. I found I didn’t worry at all about framing my shot or achieving the perfect image. I cared more about what I photographing and how it made me feel within a given moment.

I took pictures of the books I read, craft projects, writing projects, the weather (the monsoon sky in particular) and random things like movie tickets and my iPod. In many respects, nothing that special to anyone but me. My summer was supposed to be about decompressing, relaxing, and reconnecting with the things I love to do. Everything on my Instagram feed reflects that fact.

The significance of taking pictures of seemingly small things didn’t really hit me until about a month into the experiment. My practice of writing haiku ties in so perfectly with what I’ve been doing with my camera. Haiku is all about capturing a feeling, a moment, or something fleeting. Camera in hand, I found some minute detail in each day that was worth celebrating. In many ways, playing on Instagram reminded me of the importance of the little things. They are so often overshadowed by the bigger things that try so hard to distract us from what really matters.

Are there some pictures I wish I hadn’t posted? Yep. But only because they are sooo bad. However, they will remain as they reflect a memory I want to keep. Sometimes it isn’t about being perfect, its about being in the moment.

I still don’t do the selfie thing, though.

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If you dig “in the moment” pics, follow me on Instagram: @cbwentworth

🙂

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c.b.w. 2017

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Things I’ve Learned From Fangirling

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I’ve been a fangirl for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid it was The Black Stallion books, Star Trek, Star Wars, Spider-man, country music and Barbie, (weirdly most of these things are still in play!). In my 20s and 30s it was and continues to be The Office, Twilight, Marvel Comics (Daredevil in particular), YA urban fantasy books (various series), Arrow, and the Big Bang Theory. At the moment, I’m fangirling pretty hard for Shadowhunters (Malec!) and The Mortal Instruments book series its based on from author Cassandra Clare.

I’ve recently given some thought on what fangirling has meant in my life and what it has taught me. Some may view fandom as irrational behavior based in fantasy (and in some ways it is), but for many like myself I can see how some of the ridiculous things fangirls do actually carries over into reality.

Fangirls are made of some pretty tough stuff. I’ve survived some of the most heartbreaking and heart-pounding situations ever through my favorite books and movies. For example:

  • The Office: It took three seasons for Jim and Pam to get together. Every episode they didn’t find their way to one another was another little stab in the heart.
  • In Arrow: I survived Oliver “dying” in a midseason cliffhanger and the Olicity break-up (I’m still in denial on this one, though).
  • Twilight: I survived Edward breaking up with Bella in New Moon.
  • The Mortal Instruments: I survived Malec on page 511. It was so horrific we can’t even talk about it.

That means we can survive just about anything real life can throw at us. For instance, there’s nothing my students can throw at me that I can’t handle. Any time they challenge me I smirk while thinking, “Oh, please. I survived Picard getting kidnapped and turned into a Borg.”

Fangirls are incredibly empathetic. Part of the reason we get so emotionally involved and obsessed is because of our high capacity to internalize what others are feeling.

  • I cried at Jim and Pam’s wedding. And at Edward and Bella’s. (I’m sure I will at Malec’s as well. Please Cassandra Clare. Oh, please let us have this!)
  • I also cried during the last installment of Malec’s ongoing story in Tales from Shadowhunter Academy because I was overwhelmed with their happiness – they deserve it!
  • In The Mortal Instruments, I was so angry that Jace and Clary were brother and sister, that I threw the book and needed a moment to calm down.
  • In Harry Potter, I bawled so hard when Harry realized he had to die I needed an hour to get it together before I could jump back in.

Empathy, IMHO, is one of the most important traits anyone can have. It gives us the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, no matter how different they are from us. Fangirls are extraordinary practitioners of empathy!

Fangirls always have something to look forward to. This is especially true if you’re a fangirl with multiple fandoms. Let’s face it – day to day life can get monotonous. Even boring! Fangirls don’t get bored because we’re always waiting for:

  • book, movie, merchandise, tv season release dates
  • the next new episode
  • Fan events, conventions, Comicon!
  • Concert dates
  • social media updates
  • collector’s editions
  • …and about a million other things depending on the fandom

Fangirling makes you tech savvy. This is very true if you’re fangirling via social media. Over the years, a lot of my computer skills have come from fangirling.

  • The Office: I learned basic coding while posting and moderating on a message board.
  • Twilight: I learned photo cropping, editing, isolating videos, and how to create mp4 files.
  • Arrow, Shadowhunters, and Daredevil: I learned how to make gifs, screen capture videos, and “Twitter-speak.”

There’s so much more, so I may have to do another volume of my sociological analysis of being a fangirl. It’s not just for fifteen-year-olds or so-called nerds stuck in a fantasy world. It’s for anyone who loves something with everything they have and it truly does translate to real life.

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c.b.w. 2017

Kinda Sorta Goals For 2016

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I’m trying something a little different this year when it comes to setting goals. I’ve been very specific in the past and that has served me well as a planner, but my muse has been less than cooperative. For example, one of my 2015 goals was to start writing the sequel to The Muse. My muse disagreed with that goal and remained stubbornly silent on that project. We’re still not on speaking terms when it comes to this sticky subject.

I’m as driven as ever to get my novel published (somehow, some way). I have a million ideas for the The Muse’s sequel and truly do want to start writing the continuing saga of Amanda and Ian. As far as poetry goes, I’m writing haiku for multiple competitions and forums. There’s also this blog and a shelf full of craft projects!

Clearly, I have a lot of projects burning a hole in my muse pocket.

Instead of setting incredibly specific goals my muse ignores anyway, perhaps big picture goals are the way to go.

Kinda Sorta Goals:

Write, write, and write some more.

At the core of everything is my fierce desire to write. Whether it’s poetry, novels, or funky articles about knitting, my central goal will always be writing in any form.

My muse takes me a in all different directions and frequently changes her mind! I’m just going to go with the flow and keep my pen moving.

Stay optimistic and keep trying.

My go with flow mentality doesn’t mean I’m losing my determined edge! The Muse is a still a huge priority and I’ll be doing everything I can to get it published. Whether its through the traditional channels or self-publishing, it’s about time this thing saw the light of day!

The same goes for poetry. I’m going to grab onto any opportunity I can to submit to competitions, journals, etc.

Join the community.

My participation in the Poetic Asides community has inspired me to seek out other groups of writers. I’ve joined a few new groups, but have yet to fully participate (sometimes I just like to sit under the radar and get a sense of how the community functions). As 2016 unfolds, I’m hoping to find my groove in new poetry communities, but also among Young Adult writers.

This might mean searching for communities in the blogosphere and/or social media. Either way, I’m looking to connect with more people who like to write what I like to write. Maybe they can offer some advice on publication or some good old fashioned encouragement? We’ll see!

Experiment.

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Writing the same thing in the same way all the time. I want to see my writing continue to grow into something fresh and engaging. That means playing with fictional techniques and haiku formats. In addition, I want to see myself write something totally different.  The possibilities are endless if I consider a different genre or poetic form.

This same sense of experimentation also applies to my craft table. I want to try new crafts (like painting and beading) and expand my knitting and photography skills.

Trust the muse.

My muse always knows best. I have to remember to get out her way and let her speak.

Word of the Year: Enthusiasm

Weird goals aside, I want this year to be about hopeless enthusiasm that can’t be cured. No matter where this crazy journey takes me, I’m jumping in with everything I’ve got.

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What are your kinda sorta goals for 2016?

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c.b.w. 2016

2013 Goals: October Status Report

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Here’s how October went in terms of my writing goals . . .

1) Complete final draft of Novel #2.

Goal complete.

The edited draft for Novel #2 is still looking good. I have no complaints!

2) Work on converting Novel #1 into first person.

Still on the shelf (and that’s okay).

3) Submit 5 pieces of writing.

I didn’t submit anything in October, but I did decide to join the Writer’s Digest 2013 November Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge. By the end of November I should have 30 poetry submissions and be eligible to win publication in the form of a chapbook.

4) Submit three query letters for Novel #2

Goal complete!

However, the silence is deafening. During November, I’ll be researching more agents in which to send my query package.

5) Continue building author platform

It seems I’ve reverted back to my love of Facebook and I’m almost completely ignoring Twitter. Perhaps in November, I’ll get back on the Twitter bandwagon! I hereby set the goal of one tweet a day in the month of November, (links don’t count!).

My Facebook Page has grown from  335 to 341

On Twitter, my followers have slipped from 546 to 543

Thanks so much to all my followers on social networks and on this blog. Your support and encouragement means so much!

6)  Read three books on the writing/publishing process.

I pulled two books off of my shelf:

The Complete Idiots Guide to Getting Published

The First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman

As soon as I get done with Allegiant (Divergent #3) by Veronica Roth, I’ll be tackling these two books!

7) Inspire others to keep writing.

As always, I can only hope I am a positive presence!

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How are you doing on your 2013 goals?

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c.b.w. 2013

2013 Goals: September Status Report

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September is the month where I dug deep and found some courage . . .

1) Complete final draft of Novel #2.

I am still in the middle of re-reading the edited draft of Novel #2. So far, I’m happy to find it’s a pretty clean draft.

2) Work on converting Novel #1 into first person.

Still on the shelf (and that’s okay).

3) Submit 5 pieces of writing.

I wish had a better excuse for completely ignoring this goal for the bulk of 2013, but my muse has been very stubborn and single-minded. Apparently, I am only allowed to work on Novel #2, it’s sequel, and lines of poetry!

4) Submit three query letters for Novel #2

This is the goal where my courage showed up in a big way.  After such a positive experience with WriteOnCon, I decided it was time to send out my query letter.  I made a list of five agents that might be interested in my work and personalized my query letter to their specific preferences. Then, I took a deep breath and sent three queries into the wild!

With this little surge of courage, I can proudly say I’ve achieved my goal of sending out three query letters!

Better still, I’ve already received a response for one of my query letters. While it was a rejection, it was still encouraging to receive a response! Anything is better than being totally ignored.

5) Continue building author platform

Work has been a little crazy, so I’ve been a bit absent for social media and even blogging. I apologize for my lack of participation on other blogs, but I will make up for it in October!

My Facebook Page has grown from  330 to 335

On Twitter, my followers have grown from 541 to 546

Thanks so much to all my followers on social networks and on this blog. Your support and encouragement means so much!

6)  Read three books on the writing/publishing process.

Maisie Dobbs and an awesome history book are currently stealing my attention away from this goal! On the up side, I am one book shy of completing my 2013 Goodreads Reading Challenge.

7) Inspire others to keep writing.

As always, I can only hope I am a positive presence!

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How are you doing on your 2013 goals?

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c.b.w. 2013