Personal

When Do I Count?

In this internet age, anyone can be anything. Are you a writer if you have a blog? Are you a photographer if you have an Instagram? Are you a visual artist if you have on online gallery of your paintings? When do you count as an artist and when are you just a hobbyist?

apple, coffee, computer

These are some questions that I’ve been pondering a lot. I think they’ve arisen for two reasons: 1. I’ve been thinking a lot about my identity as a writer because of being in a writing MFA program. 2. I’ve found myself comparing myself to others recently. I keep wondering if I’m more of a writer than someone else because my workshop story is getting better reviews or because I’ve had a few things published or because a certain number of people read my blog posts.

Ultimately, I’ve come to a few conclusions, but it really boils down to: Why do I care? I think that the fact that these are the questions that have been bothering me are just shedding light on the fact that I’m still really insecure in a lot of ways. I don’t have a novel published, but even when I do, I know there are tons of other authors who have had multiple novels published or have had wider critical acclaim. There will always be someone who is considered better or more successful.

I think the key to succeeding for me is to find a place within myself where I can just focus on creating what I want to create. I don’t want to be jealous of other authors – I want to celebrate them and their work (because I love books and I love reading!) So, I don’t need to be so worried about labels. Do I count as a writer? Sure, probably, maybe. Really, the label doesn’t matter and I’m sure everyone has a different definition of success for writers. So, I’m just going to try to rid myself of these questions by focusing on my writing instead of worrying about the general perception of me as a writer.

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Personal

New School Quarter!

This week, I am starting a new quarter of my MFA program at Lindenwood University. I’ve really enjoyed my experience at the school so far, and I’m excited to start another quarter. It’s hard to believe that after this quarter, I’ll be half finished with the program!

I definitely feel like I’ve already grown a lot as a writer, and I’ve had so many great ideas for large products emerge from my work in the MFA courses. Sometimes, I worry that I have too many ideas! I just need to sit down and write something. I have been writing every day and things are coming along slowly but surely. I have fully outlined four large projects and I’ve started writing two of them. My biggest pitfall when writing is that I want to stop and edit each sentence after I’ve written it, and that leads to me getting frustrated and going nowhere. I want to just write the full drafts this time and the edit afterwards, but what if I spend months writing crap?

I wonder if accomplished writers have these same anxieties and hurdles to overcome or if they just create formulas and patterns that work for them. I hope I find out someday.

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New Year, New Opportunities!

It is 2017! I think that this past year felt like it went by so much faster than previous years. It seemed like 2016 was the year of reflection for me. I spent so much time thinking about what I wanted to do and what I wanted to be. I want 2017 to be a year of action instead!

I’m hoping that 2017 can be my most productive year yet. I have a few goals that I want to share with you (so I can feel somewhat accountable):

  1. I am going to write every single day! To be a successful writer, there are no shortcuts. It takes persistence and practice.
  2. I am going to continue blogging 6 times a week (3 times here and 3 times on my lifestyle blog Cincy Couture).
  3. I am going to complete a novel manuscript and have it ready for an agent or a publisher by the end of the year. I feel like I spend so much time planning and outlining future projects – but this year, I want to actually complete something.
  4. I am going to read at least 200 books. I want to make sure that I’m reviewing and sharing great works with you, and to do that, I need to continue reading a lot. I’m going to try to also read a better variety of things in 2017, since I feel like I read predominantly cozy mysteries in 2016.

I know that these are pretty big goals, but I also think they are attainable with enough hard work. I’ll try to check in throughout the year to mark any progress I’m making on these goals.

So, what about you? What are your goals for 2017? Feel free to leave them in the comments section, even if they’re not related to reading or writing.

And to anyone who’s reading this, I hope you have a really wonderful 2017!

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Reliving My Childhood

My fiance Josh is only ten months younger than me, but there was a vital difference between our childhoods: he did not grow up in the magical world of Harry Potter! Recently, he asked if we could watch the movies together, and we’ve been marathoning them ever since.

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I’ve been reading the Harry Potter books since the third grade, and it was really exciting when I read the final book book in the main series since Harry and I were both 17. There was nothing wrong with my childhood, but I was kind of awkward and lonely and occasionally bullied. These books took me away when I read them and gave me a group of fictional friends to care about. I would sit in class and daydream about being at Hogwarts with my real friends.

Even as an adult, I retain a passion for the wizarding world created by the masterful J.K. Rowling. In college at the University of Cincinnati, I even took a literature elective class all about Harry Potter where we were sorted into houses and read all seven books. (If you were wondering, Pottermore ALWAYS sorts me into Slytherin – we’re not all bad, I promise!)

I have read these books and watched the movies countless times. I read the script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child the day it came out (even though July 31st is also my fiance’s birthday). It’s been a really great experience sharing the movies with Josh, and I hope we read the books together someday. There are a lot of book series that I read as a child that don’t have the same impact in my adulthood, but Harry Potter is not one of them. These are the books that have impacted my life the most, and I love sharing them. I hope that someday I can sit down with my niece or nephew and share this experience with them as well.

Do you have something from childhood that continues to touch your life as an adult? What still excites you and makes you feel like you can always relive the best parts of childhood? Let me know in the comments section!