Personal, Update

Where I’ve Been/Where I’m Going

The most discouraging thing about writing is the feeling that my productivity needs to be consistent. I look at writers who are churning out at least a book a year, and I wonder “What’s wrong with me? I can’t even blog regularly anymore.” I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I’m just not the type of person who can always be productive because periodically I have periods of depression that require me to take a step back and recharge and hibernate. That’s where I’ve been this year so far – recharging, rediscovering, relearning. If you would like to learn more about how this feels, or if this is something you go through as well and you want to read something you can relate to, I would absolutely recommend the upcoming book The Radiant Midnight: Depression, Grace, and the Gifts of a Dark Place by Melissa Maimone. This book comes out April 2nd and offers a realistic insider’s perspective on depression.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’m happy to say that, for now at least, things are feeling better. I’m starting to feel creative again, and I’m cautiously optimistic about the future. I’ve started writing fiction again, and I’m even sending out some short works. In fact, one of my stories “Appendix A” has been accepted for publication in Clever Magazine. I have a lot of things I need to work on both personally and professionally, but I can feel myself moving forward and that’s been really relieving.

So, where am I going? Forward into the unknown.

I’m going to try to blog more regularly. I plan on posting movie and book reviews soon. I want to continue writing and submitting short stories to journals. Maybe I’ll even pick up the novel and the screenplay I started last year. But I know better than to make lofty promises or outrageous goals, so all of this is going to go at whatever pace I can reasonably muster each day.

Thank you for following reading and following along on this journey!

-Tiffany Renee Harmon

 

Personal, Update

Update On My Disappearance

Well, hello there. It’s me again. Yes, you might have noticed that I disappeared again. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I want to do, so this blog has been a bit neglected since my 31 Days of Horror series.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

So, one of my goals for 2019 is to create more reasonable goals for myself! I know that Haute Couture Society will still be taking up most of my blogging/networking time, but I want to do a better job at keeping up with this one too. So, to help with this, this blog is going to be a bit more casual. I’m planning to have general updates here about writing projects and information about things I’m liking (books, movies, etc). Some posts may have a combination of a lot of different things.

To get started, here are some things I’m loving this December:

  1. Candles – There are so many great scents that come out around the holidays. Since I have a fake Christmas tree, I have been loving my Christmas Tree scented candle for some extra ambiance.
  2. Krampus – From cheesy movies to funny t-shirts, I have been obsessing over Krampus this year. (If you don’t know who this folklore figure it, check it out here). This is the perfect combination of Christmas and horror!
  3. Reality TV – Vanderpump Rules is back!! I’m a huge fan of all things Bravo, but this Real Housewives spin-off is my absolute favorite!

Here are some things I’m hating this December:

  1. Bumble – Being single during the holidays sucks. I’ve been trying to use the dating app Bumble, but it’s been so discouraging. I just don’t seem to have much in common with single guys in the Cincinnati area.
  2. Vegetables – I’m on a diet and it’s going pretty well. But even though I’m forcing myself to eat more vegetables, I still loathe them…and always will.
  3. Darkness – Despite my love of horror, I still get really sad when it’s dark both when I leave for when and when I’m coming home from work.

Well, thanks for reading! I promise, I’m going to try to do a better job to keep up with this blog, share my favorites, and update people on my writing projects.

Happy Holidays!

-Tiffany

Poetry Review

National Poetry Month

April is national poetry month! I love poetry, and I always use this time of year as an excuse to explore it more. Poetry gets a bad rap because it can be very vague or inaccessible at times, but I think a great poet can really cause you to emote and experience the poem just like an expert fiction writer can get you to experience a fictional story. I love raw emotion in poetry. That’s not always something you can find because poetry has been trending away from some of my favorite themes: naturalistic descriptions and confessionalism. Anyway, to honor national poetry month, I wanted to suggest 10 great books of poetry in case anyone is interested in delving into poetry this month.

The Infinitesimals by Laura Kasischke 

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Prelude to Bruise by Saaed Jones

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Blue Horses by Mary Oliver

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The History of Anonymity by Jennifer Chang 

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Metaphysical Dog by Frank Bidart

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Stag’s Leap by Sharon Olds

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Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth by Adrienne Rich 

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The Rain in Portugal by Billy Collins 

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Head Off & Split by Nikky Finney 

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Time and Materials by Robert Hass 

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I hope everyone has a wonderful National Poetry month! Do you have a favorite poet? If so, be sure to let me know in the comments section so that I can check them out!

 

 

 

 

Personal, Update

MFA Update and 5 Writing Tips

I just finished my sixth quarter at Lindenwood University. For those of you who don’t know, I’m working on an MFA in writing fiction. I can’t believe I only have two quarters left! If everything goes according to plan, I will be finished in March 2018.

Overall, my experiencing in the MFA program has been very positive. I think that I’ve grown so much as a writer, so I wanted to share some things with aspiring writers. Here are my five top tips for writers:

  1. Discipline is so important. It doesn’t matter that you have millions of great ideas if you never get them down on paper. It is a great idea to come up with a writing routine so that you get in the habit of writing every single day.
  2. Editing is crucial. No one’s first draft is perfect. Yes, publishers provide editors if they decide to take on your project, but it’s important to do your best so that you can even get to that point. Make sure you’ve done all you can to make your project the best before you send it out.
  3. Feedback is so helpful. You can’t objectively analyze your own writing. You just can’t. It’s so important to have a beta reader you can trust that will provide you with honest feedback of what isn’t working in your project.
  4. Rejection is unavoidable. Whether your peers hate your story in workshop or several publishers say no to you, every writer will face rejection at some point. In fact, rejection is going to happen a lot more than acceptance. If you want to be a successful writer, you’ve got to develop a thick skin. Don’t let rejection get you down. Let it inspire you to become a better writer.
  5. Conventions exist for a reason. Sure, rules can be broken, but most publishers won’t take a chance on something too experimental. There’s a reason that children’s books are shorter than adult books – children don’t have a long attention span. There’s a reason that most novels aren’t written in second person – it’s hard to sustain for longer projects. Have you noticed that most horror movies are exactly 90 minutes long? It’s difficult to create suspense and have escalating tension for much longer than that. Learn why the conventions exist in each genre before trying to break the rules.

I hope that these suggestions can be helpful to anyone reading this blog who is considering becoming a writer or sending things out to publishers. Writing can be discouraging – only about 4% of writers can live off what they make from their writing – but it’s also very rewarding to see your name in print. Honestly, I think that the process of writing is so enjoyable that it makes up for all the rejection and poor pay. Still, if you want to pursue writing, make sure you’re doing it because you love it and not because you think it will make you rich.

Thanks for reading!

-Tiffany

Personal

My MFA Experience So Far 

Well, my summer break is up! Two more classes start for me tomorrow (a novel chapter workshop and a contemporary poetry class). I’ve made it a quarter past the halfway point, and I’m on track to graduate in March, so I wanted to check in and write about my MFA experience so far.

I’ve been really pleased with my decision of choosing Lindenwood University for my MFA. I can complete the entire thing online, which is so ideal because I have a full time job and other time commitments. The work is still rigorous, but I’ve also loved that this school has been genre-friendly. We’re not just writing literary fiction. All genres are encouraged, as long as we’re writing well. The online format is also really conducive to workshopping. We’re able to critique each other’s writing online really well. I think that the fact that we’re not meeting face-to-face means that everyone is just more honest (and this is helpful because future publishers won’t spare our feelings).

I’ve grown a lot as a writer throughout this program already. Someone once told me that I’ll know I’m no longer an amateur when I start writing characters that are nothing like me. I thought this was silly advice at the time, but I completely understand it now. I feel like I’m finally able to start writing characters who have different personalities and experiences than myself because I am comfortable writing stories other than my own and I no longer need to be my own protagonist.

Throughout the past year, I’ve been struck with so many ideas for future novels (plus the one I’m currently writing for my thesis project). Lindenwood has just been so great at fostering creativity. Sure, like any school, there are pros and cons and professors I love and professors I really don’t like, but I can honestly say that I’ve grown as a writer and learned something about myself during every single class.

Pursing this degree has been one of the best decisions I’ve made. I grow in confidence every day, and I’m ready to finally finish a novel that’s good enough for other people to read. Each day is a new step in my journey towards becoming a novelist, and if you’re reading this post, I just want to thank you for coming along for the ride and supporting me.

Thanks for reading,

Tiffany

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?

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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.

Personal

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!