Tag: Minnesota writers

I’ve abandoned my posts recently – okay, it wasn’t that funny – for good reasons. The garden vegetables needed to be harvested and processed and packaged and frozen for deep winter consumption. Home-grown veggie lasagna with eggplant noodles tastes like sunshine on a dark and frigid January night. Pans and pans of lasagna and squash gratin were prepared, cooled, tasted, tasted some more, then flash frozen. And I’m not done yet. No.

Now come the winter squash bakes and apple cakes, sauce, and crisp. And the pumpkins – not just for carving – are better in pie and cake and pudding. And then the gardens have to be put to bed.

Pumpkin

In this year of learning about being a full-time creative, my intended work-a-day schedule has been blown over and over. I may not go to an employer’s office any longer, but the household demands continue to fight me for time and attention. How can we ever find the time to do our creative work when there is so much else to be done, that has to be done?

Do the work when the work needs to be done.

I suspended writing for the summer to prepare work for the Arts off 84 art crawl on Labor Day weekend. I discovered that I missed sketching and drawing and painting and that I love it as much as I do love writing. This past year, painting had its season during the summer months. The upcoming year will find a few hours each week – maybe even every few days – set aside to plan and prep and start the next collection of paintings.

Worried Boy and Kitten

But I also have self-imposed deadlines to meet. My first novel, “Saving the Ghost,” was sent out into the world as a finished work in search of an agent. It received the attention of a small press and an agent – which in itself for a first work is an achievement. The agent provided feedback which let me know that the book is not quite where it needs to be. Thanks to the Five Wings Arts Council and the McKnight Foundation, I’ve received a 2017 Artist Project Grant, to go back into editing and revision. I also have a second novel in the works. Both projects need to be off my desk by April 30, 2018.

blankpage-pen

And that’s how getting things done works. If I hadn’t picked the tomatoes and squash at the right time and done the work to turn them into meals at the right time, all my soil prep and seed planting and garden tending would have been wasted effort. I love my writing and my painting as much or more as I do my homemade marinara sauce. I won’t waste my creative efforts by wondering when I might find the time to do the work when the work needs to be done.

NEWS!

You can read my latest flash fiction piece, “Abel March,”  in Talking Stick 26.

The Talking Stick is a Minnesota literary journal published by the Jackpine Writers’ Bloc. Produced entirely by Minnesota writers for Minnesota writers since the beginning in 1995.

Buy it now from Jackpine Writers’ Bloc or on Amazon

 

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2017 BWA Writing Contest and Fall Festival

ATTEND BWA FALL FESTIVAL and BOOK FAIR

October 28, 2017

Where: Northland Arboretum
Time: 9:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Registration begins at 9:00 a.m.
See details on how to register, below.

Minnesota Writers – CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

Submit your original work to the annual BWA writing contest.
See details on how to submit, below.

Book Fair Vendors

$5 for 1/3 of an 8-foot table space to sell your books.
Space is limited. Be sure to mention you’d like a spot when registering.

2017 BWA contest guidelines

  2017-BWA-FestivalPoster

 

2017 BWA Fall Festival Speaker, Faith Sullivan

“Aiming for Excellence: A Little Better Every Day

Faith Sullivan was born and raised in southern Minnesota. Married to drama critic Dan Sullivan, she lived twenty-some years in New York and Los Angeles, returning to Minnesota often to keep her roots planted in the prairie. She is the author of Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse (2015), Gardenias (2005),  What a Woman Must Do (2002), The Empress of One (1997), The Cape Ann (1988), Mrs. Demming and The Mythical Beast (1986), Watchdog (1982) and Repent, Lanny Merkel (1981). A “demon gardener, flea marketer, and feeder of birds,” Sullivan lives in Minneapolis with her husband. They have three grown children. For more information, please visit her website. Photo credit: Leila_Navidi   faithsullivan.com

Brainerd Writers Alliance 2017 Writing Contest

GUIDELINES and INFORMATION

This contest is open to all writers who are residents of Minnesota.

CATEGORIES

Fiction: 2500 word limit.

Tips: Stories need a strong hook to get the reader into the first scene; good development of character and scene interwoven with action; clear rising action to a turning point and resolution; consistent point of view; theme or story idea is clear by end.

Creative nonfiction: 2500 word limit.

  • Memoir stories use fiction guidelines above but are based on actual events.
  • Essay should concern an issue but still have a hook and be developed using examples, narrative, cause-effect, or comparison-contrast; rising action to a climax – arguments get stronger to the turning point; and come to a clear conclusion.

Poetry: 3 poem limit (each poem limited to maximum 40 lines).

  • Poems need strong imagery that enhances the theme or emotion. Robert Frost said, “Poems should begin with delight and end with wisdom.”

FEE TO SUBMIT

$15.00 –  entry in fiction or nonfiction categories.

$15.00 – one to three poems in the poetry category.

ELIGIBILITY

Contest is open to writers who are residents of Minnesota. Work must be submitter’s original, not previously awarded, and unpublished.

DEADLINE and NOTIFICATION

Entries due postmarked August 30, 2017 (no metered mail) or before; winners will be notified by Sept. 30th.

HOW TO SUBMIT

  • Cover letter, separate from entry, to include
    • Name and contact info (address, phone, email)
    • List entry titles with category and word count. Example: “Olivia” – creative nonfiction – 2,455 words.
  • $15 entry fee per entry check made out to BWA
  • Two (2) typed copies of each entry
  • All entries must be typed on standard 8 ½ x 11 paper
  • Use 12 pt. Times New Roman font or similar, double-spaced / Poetry may be single- or double-spaced
  • Fiction and creative nonfiction include – title, category, and word count on top of each page; double-spaced, DO NOT INCLUDE YOUR NAME.
  • Poetry include – title at the top of the page, DO NOT INCLUDE YOUR NAME.
  • Submit by August 30, 2017
  • Postal mail entries to: BWA Writing Contest, 30755 Old Hwy 371, Pequot Lakes, MN 56472

PRIZES

Prizes are $75 for first place and $50 for second place and free entry to 2017 Fall Writers Festival. Winners will be notified after September 30, 2017 and are invited to read at the festival. Prizes will be awarded at the festival or by mail after the festival.

OTHER NOTES

  • Winning entries will not be put on our website or published in any way, so that they may be submitted later as “not previously published” in magazines, anthologies, etc.
  • Our judges are skilled in the writing craft. We encourage them to attend the festival and give comments on the winning entries.
  • All contest entrants are encouraged to attend the BWA Fall Writers Festival October 28th at the Northland Arboretum.

ATTEND BWA FALL WRITERS FESTIVAL

  • A separate fee of $25 for the Festival includes a catered lunch.
  • Reservations are due on or before Oct. 25th.
  • To reserve your spot, send $25.00 check payable to BWA
    • Postal Mail: 6584 Parkview Circle, Baxter, MN 56425
    • Email: brainerdwriters@gmail.com, attn.: Bev, with your RSVP and pay at the door.

BOOK FAIR VENDORS: $5 for 1/3 of an 8-foot table space to sell your books. Space is limited. Be sure to mention you’d like a spot when registering.

Contact Contest Chair Bev Abear with questions at brainerdwriters@gmail.com

Check our website for updates on our Fall Writers Festival: www.brainerdwriters.com

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Early on in this series we looked at our intention to create art and asked the question, “How serious am I?” The deeper I get into my own work, the more serious I am, the more driven, the more confused I am about the quality of my work. I’m talking about writing and how I’ve learned that there is a “best” way to tell a story. I’ve learned that I’m prone to leave out some important things – best ways to deliver characters and scenes – and I’m struggling to understand how to recognize and fix the problems.

I just heard myself saying to myself, “Maybe you’ve taken on too much with this book.” Maybe I have. Maybe I can’t learn the things I need to know to do this story justice. Maybe… and then I stopped. I reminded myself that I want to tell this story, this particular story because I believe it’s important. And I reminded myself that two years ago I didn’t know enough to know to ask the questions I’m asking now.

My intention has been clear from the beginning. I want this. I want this enough to work this hard at learning the craft. I’ve learned to ignore some input and some teachings and to embrace others. I’ve done virtually nothing but learn and practice and learn and practice. I tell myself, “This isn’t math. You can do it!”

So this week I’m going to take you back to the second week topic and ask you to review your intention to create. Are you any further along than you were six months ago? Does it matter to you?

How Serious Are You?

On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being I’m all in!, where are you as we start this week and is it where you want to be?  Where you imagined yourself to be?

Pick Your Battles.

Everything we do that we do well requires some time and effort. Time and energy can be the two strongest forces working against us as we age. Can we ignore our obstacles? By this time in life, I think we’ve all come to realize that the adage, pick your battles, has real meaning.

I’ve always been a nap taker. On the days that I did not allow myself the luxury of an afternoon snooze, I felt restless and less focused. Rather than fight my nature, I succumbed and am much happier and more productive for giving in.

My husband listens patiently to my babblings about what I’m writing or what I’m painting. He’s supportive but not engaged in my enthusiasm. I had to seek out other creatives who would share my excitement. Rather than fight with my husband over my disappointments, I accept what he offers and appreciate him for who he is.

I have friends who are challenged by mobility and other health-related issues. They’ve had to accept their physical limitations but that doesn’t mean restrictions on their creative dreams. Tools at hand, inspiring videos and a willingness to embrace the freedoms a creative spirit affords, keeps the artist alive and busy finding new ways to accommodate first the artist, then the limitations.

Finding the time to work.

I found that I accomplished the most writing in the early morning. Fresh from sleep and dreams, I hit the computer keyboard and pound out the words. After about an hour, I have to take a break and walk around a little, feed the dog, have some coffee or tea. So I learned to set alarms on my phone to reflect my way of working.

I officially start work at 9 o’clock in the morning. I may be up at 4 or 5 and been writing and musing and planning. But by 8 a.m., I need to be showered and dressed and prepared for work as if I had an office to get to. It took me six months of retirement to realize that I work best with a schedule. So I created one. By following a schedule I found my level of commitment to the work was rewarded with pages written and paintings painted and boundless satisfaction and self-appreciation!

I also realized that not every day is a work day. Somedays I found I could not focus or settle down into the routine. I knew I was missing the element of pressure to achieve so I began working with deadlines. I entered art shows and writing competitions that came with a finish-by date. That gave me the extra nudge I needed to keep me going.

Deadlines and schedules may not be what work for you. I seem to get the most joy out of accomplishment. Many people find their joy in the process. Watch yourself, see how you work, notice what makes you feel good about what you’re doing and how you do it. Then establish working rules that fit you and allow you to get the most creative enjoyment.

Tips for the week:

  • Pay attention to distractions. What pulls you away from your art?
  • Take note of your personal work style. When are you the most productive?
  • Consider your workspace. Does it fit with your working style?
  • Make notes about the obstacles and challenges you find. How can you put your artist self first, before accommodating limitations or restrictions?
  • Keep sketching
  • Try a timed writing off of one of your sticky note thoughts from last week. Get a pad of paper, position yourself in a comfy spot, set a timer for 5 minutes and write without lifting pen from paper.

Keep building your bank of sticky note ideas.

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