Day 31: Farewell March! It has been swell!

Congratulations!  You’ve made it!  We are at the end of this year’s Writer’s March, and I have very much enjoyed writing with you this year, and hope to do so again in 2015.  In the end, I felt like this month had some of the best posts the March has ever seen thanks to an amazing team of bloggers!  And so, I thought it would be fitting to leave you with the best tidbits from the month:

Key Quotes from Week #1:

Let me tell you this: there is nothing more delicious than writing when you know you are supposed to be doing something else. -From “The Start of March”

If you have the time to fill out a 200 page comp book in the month, feel the heft and the thickness of it and revel in the fact that it was blank at the start of the month. Of course some of it will be crap, of course it’ll “need a lot of work,” but we’re writers: cleaning up crap is part of our work. And unlike waiting for a phone to ring, writing is work. Even if you’ve only got the time for a page a day, that’s still 31 pages. It’s a healthy chunk of a tree, it’ll need quite a bit of extra postage to mail. Enjoy that feeling. Heck, if you’re so inclined, mail it to yourself so you can see that great big envelope with all those stamps arrive and know it was something you accomplished. -From Bob Sabatini in “Add It All Up”

Sometimes life is hard.  Things go wrong – in life, and in love, and in business, and in friendship, and in health, and in all the other ways that life can go wrong, and when things get tough, this is what you should do: Make good art. – A Neil Gaiman tidbit from “Neil Gaiman and the Top of the Mountain”

At the same time, sticking to the familiar path ensures that you will never turn a corner and discover something beautiful, interesting, or confounding. How many side streets do you drive past every day without turning down them? Yes, most of the neighborhoods look the same, but sometimes you discover a park with a cool public sculpture, a house covered in brightly colored tile, a tree where someone carved Our Lady of Guadalupe. There is a reason that many people would rather risk a hole-in-the-wall restaurant rather than eat at a chain restaurant again. – Upon discussing “The Thing” in Jennifer Krohn’s post “Leaving the Familiar Path” 

I’ve found that writing in this way, with a prompt and a timer, really gets the inner critic and the censor off the page and out of your head.  It allows you to dig deep into your subconscious and get at the heart of things. -From Jennifer Simpson in “Playing with Words”

Key Quotes from Week #2:

I’m a firm believer that stories should tell themselves, that while broad structures could be useful in giving guideposts to a writer who is lost in a piece, but if the writing is going smoothly it should be allowed to explore. After all, what’s the point of taking a road trip if you don’t get off the Interstate once in a while? -From Bob Sabatini in “Shape it up”

For me, writing poetry is not like doing a triple axel in the Olympics. I can’t just leap with no warning with the pulse of the music in my throat and throw down ice chips in my wake like broken stars. Even Olympic figure skaters can’t do that, I don’t think. They leap effortlessly because they’ve practiced and trained and fallen for years. They’ve sat there with their bodies and their work and haven’t expected things to just work out. – From Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco in “Sandcastles of Crap”

There are a dozen other things to get rid of for March:  the Thirteen-toed Sloth of Procrastination (oh, wow, write?  No, I better wash the dishes, take the dog for a walk, check Facebook, take a shower, do my taxes);  the Pernicious Pit of Cumulative Despair (Oh, I didn’t write for three days, might as well give up the whole thing),  and her cousin the Sad and Stubborn Can’t  (this scene isn’t going well, so obviously I can’t really write at all);  the Uninspired Auntie (I can’t think of anything to write.  I don’t have any ideas.  Might as well give up).  I’m sure you can think of some of your own. But for now, banish them all. -From Lisa D. Chavez in “What I’m Giving Up For Lent”

“Cloud spotting” he says, “legitimizes doing nothing.” He reminds us (well me at least) that inspiration can be found in the every day, that looking up at the clouds is about being present and letting your imagination wander. – From Jennifer Simpson in “Looking (Up) for Inspiration”

I’ve set some pieces in the desert, but I find that I tend to do what that panel of Western writers called “window dressing.”  I bring in details of the setting and I make it clear that it’s taking place in Albuquerque, on a desert road, etc., but I have yet to write anything where the desert setting feels absolutely essential and integral to the story.  -From Melanie Unruh in “Let the Sky Haunt You”

Key Quotes From Week #3

Suspension of disbelief is no mere myth. If your story is compelling, your characters engaging and with an emotional heart that resonates deeply, then readers (or viewers or listeners) will happily grant you that suspension of disbelief, and either not notice or choose not to care when you need to hedge “reality” or common sense in order to tell that story. -From Bob Sabatini in “Up in the sky!  Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It’s a plot hole!”

One of the best writing exercises Demetria [Martinez] offered was this: “Describe a kitchen from the point of view of someone who is grieving.  Do not use the word “grief” (or any of its forms).”  And then, “Describe a kitchen from the point of view of someone who is in love. Do not use the word “love” (or any of its forms).” I don’t know about you, but I tend to write too much in my head, and these exercises, even for a nonfiction memoir writer like myself, are very useful. -From Jennifer Simpson in “How We See Things”

Today, my days are more full and my writing has more weight, more pressure.  BUT, this month, when I’ve been sitting down to work, I’m letting the fun win more.  I haven’t always worked on the novel.  I haven’t always worked on prose.  One day, I sat there and drew pictures and called it the beginning of a graphic story.  Another day, I cut out bits from a magazine and glued them into a scrap book.  As artists, aren’t we allowed to sow as many seeds as we see fit? -From “Gardening Tips for March”

Key Quotes from Week #4:

I feel it’s important that I make it clear the advice I’m about to give is not just meant to help writers better meet some arbitrary word-count goal, it is meant to make them better writers: do not stop yourself from writing. Don’t worry about what anybody else is going to think when they read it, whether you feel you “know enough” about the subject matter to write convincingly or that you know you’ll never be able to publish it. – From Bob Sabatini in “Write it!”

Your intuition knows when the writing is good and when chances are necessary.  Get it down, and while you’re at it, get out of the way!  -From “Faulkberries!”

Remember, challenges like the Writers’ March are meant to work for you, not the other way around. If you find that any approach leads you down an ill-fitting path, simply turn around. You can always return to your comfort zone any time you like.  -From Lisa Hase-Jackson in “Five Weird Ways to Get Writing”

We’re always going to find someone who is more than willing to tell us that we’re not a writer. Someone who is more than happy to point out that what we’ve written doesn’t really count. The best thing that I’ve ever done was to ignore (or at least actively try to ignore) them. Today, I suggest you think about that subject matter, that genre, that form or lack of form, that thing that you’ve been avoiding writing about because it doesn’t count, and, of course, write about it. -From Jennifer Krohn in “Prove Them Wrong”

In short, at school I was becoming known as a “writer.” And my family still supported my work. I wrote a poem about our pet cat, Fat Cat, and won a local poetry contest with “Butterfly,” about a monarch who met its death when it fell prey to a crow. When my great-grandmother died just before my ninth birthday, I wrote a poem called “Granny.” (“Granny was a good old soul. / She lived to be quite old.”) I used my finest penmanship and wrote its seven lines with the faintest of pencil strokes. That last line, standing alone with no rhyming couplet, may symbolize my grief, or perhaps it marked a Coleridgean inability to finish. When I handed it to my grandmother, she cried and cried. That poem made her so happy. She quoted it often. -From Marisa P.C. in “Sweet Inspiration”

And what I’ve learned THIS MONTH (why only now!?) is that it is only when I STOP thinking about [external factors like publication and money] that writing is fun again, and only when writing is fun again that I come close to finishing. – From “What’s Your Motivation?”

Final Thoughts & Final Thanks

This year’s March has been a huge challenge for me, and it would not have been made possible without the help of my fellow bloggers.  Thank you, thank you, thank you to Jennifer Simpson & Bob Sabatini for your weekly help!  And thank you, thank you to this year’s Guest Bloggers: Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco, Jennifer Krohn (who wrote TWO posts!), Lisa Hase-Jackson, Lisa D. Chavez, Melanie Unruh, and Marisa P.C.  Without all of you, this year’s writer’s march would have been a series of author quotes and writing exercises.  I am so grateful for the added dimensionality and insights you’ve provided.  You definitely kept this blog afloat!

And finally, to those out there who wrote with us this year.  Thanks for being a part of the March!  Hopefully, we’ll see you next year!  And if you are interested in blogging with us, please let me know!

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