Monday, January 13, 2020

Some Drafts Are Just Drafts

Looking up at the sky through bare branches

You can abandon some of your drafts. Here is a (very imaginary) permission slip to give yourself whenever you need it.

Of course, I would never advocate for throwing out early drafts. But you don't have to keep editing and revising them. Instead, make time for whatever it is that you really want to write. I know that I've gotten stuck on a draft because I think I have to finish it before I "allow" myself to start the next thing. 

Sometimes drafts are just drafts; they don't always lead to something more. They might be practice for something else, a playful attempt that you enjoyed trying out but didn't work or something you had to write to get on to the next thing. 

You might feel comfortable jotting notes in a journal that you don't necessarily come back to. A titled word processing document can live in that same space if it just doesn't feel right.

The road to a final draft is paved with many, many earlier drafts. But there are also some roads that don't end in a final draft and that's ok. These roads are just, well, drafty (thank you to 2020's first blog-pun-permission.)

Monday, December 30, 2019

Happy New Year! Time to Set Attainable Goals to Meet the BIG One

Lantern-style elephants at the National Zoo's annual Zoo Lights

Every year I say that the following year's date doesn't sound real. This year is no different: "2020" just doesn't sound like a year that this person born in 1970-something can wrap her mind around. (Right?!?)

That said, here we (almost) are! A new year. I love the fresh start of a new notebook or even word processing document. A new year is even better.

In preparation of this fresh start of a new year, make some clear and attainable writing goals. Build on what you already do and succeed at doing. Start the list with the major goal, no matter how intimidating it might be (maybe, "write book"). Then, do the important work to make that goal possible: break that major goal into pieces (maybe, "write outline," "write x scene," "finish chapter 2," etc.)

Give yourself some time to look at your calendar and think about when you can and actually will work towards these goals. Then, mark your calendar. Imagine that writing (and editing, researching, revising and submitting) are appointments that you have to keep. Set aside the time and keep the appointment.

You got this.

You might also read an earlier post, "Happy New Year! Ok, Now It Is the Time to Write"

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Thank you, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities!

Thank you to the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities for awarding me an Individual Artist Fellowship for 2020 (Arts & Humanities Fellowship Program)! I am honored to be recognized among the many talented, working artists here in Washington, D.C. You can read the full list of awardees here. This funding will help me to continue to produce and submit work in 2020.

If you are a DC artist considering applying for the following year, check this page for deadlines and details. Everything was available online last year; I also understood the process better after attending a local workshop.

Thank you again!

Monday, December 16, 2019

Literary Gift Giving

Umberto Boccioni (Italian)

Support literary organizations, writers, small presses and more this holiday season as you shop for your favorite writer or reader (or yourself!)

Here are some ideas:

Donate to a literary organization that supports writers. To get started, PEN America has a list of 14 literary organizations that support writers who resist and Electric Lit has a list of literary nonprofits using books to make a difference.

Buy books through your favorite local independent bookstore or order from them online. If you're not sure where to look, search through Indie Bookstore Finder.

Looking to discover a literary author published by a small press? Scroll through the catalogues by linking through Powell's list of favorite small presses.

Subscribe to a literary magazine for someone else or yourself. Discover a new one through Poets & Writers' list.

Order gift certificates for writing coach sessions with me or schedule your first one today (chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com. I can work locally in the D.C. area or remotely.

If you are in the D.C. area, I still have a few seats open in my Advanced Memoir Writing Workshop at Politics and Prose bookstore which begins Jan. 22. Please register directly through the bookstore.

Have some more ideas? Please share them in the comments section.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Kids Writing - With You!

6yrold working on his story during the class we taught together

Our six-year-old has been excited to write books with me. We usually staple together some paper and he draws the pictures and writes the plot with some help.  He wanted to take it further and offer a class to kids and their adults. We taught our first official class together recently at the Writer's Center and it was a success! There were Kindergartners and their grownups (in this case, moms and grandmothers).

We started by explaining three simple words: Setting, Character & Plot. Then I read Mo Willem's book The Pigeon Needs a Bath! and we applied the new words what we heard and saw in the picture book. The hands-on part of the workshop included the kids writing short stories based on some prompts. In the end, the kids and grownups presented the books they proudly authored together.

If you'd like to do something like this at home, here are some resources:

Books to read: 
A Mighty Girl
Independent bookstore and your local library
Story podcast: Circle Round

Local Writing Programs for young people:

New Pages guide for young writers

Story Cubes
Story Box (puzzle by Anne Laval)
Scholastic Story Starters 
eeBoo Create Tell Me A Story Cards

Self-publish your book:
Blurb (print on demand - easy, inexpensive and a good way to share with family members, too)
Lulu Junior (full kit to make books)

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Publication: Teacher Voice Anthology

I'm very excited to have four poems coming out in the new anthology of work by teachers, Teacher Voice, published by Malarkey Books.

If you're interested in pre-ordering your copy, here are the details:

In collaboration with our friends at @MythicPicnic, Malarkey Books is proud to publish Teacher Voice, an anthology of writing by teachers. Edited by DeMisty D. Bellinger and Alan Good, both college teachers, this book features stories, poems, and essays by thirteen talented teachers.

We are taking preorders now (click here), and the first copies should ship in December. Please select Media Mail or First Class for shipping.

The cover was designed by Stuart Buck (@stuartmbuck on Twitter).

Featured writers:

Tomas Moniz
Shannon McLeod
Maya White-Lurie
Scott Garson
Wandeka Gayle
Noah Cain
Derek Heckman
Carman C. Curton
James Tate Hill
Chloe Yelena Miller
Siân Griffiths
Clarence Barbee
Jonathan Persinger