In Writing-Proud 2022 Moments #1

This month I’ve been looking back over things I’m proud of that I accomplished in 2022. One of the things at the top of that list is getting back into reading. As a author of two published books and working as a librarian, it goes without saying that I love books. However, recent times have caused me to feel like a bit of a fraud when I leaved the phrase “avid reader” in my bio. The truth is that I used to be an avid reader BEFORE I started writing. Now I’m more like a “wannabe” avid reader. Since beginning my writing journey, it seems, I’ve always been in some stage of a writing project. When I would pick up a book, I would soon feel like I should be writing (there’s a podcast that goes by that name, which I wish I chosen as my own!)

Nevertheless, reading is a MUST for me. I need to do it like I need to breathe. And no more matter how tempting it is to come home from work or wake up on a Saturday or Sunday morning to stream the latest popular series on Netflix, I had to make time for reading. It is apart of my writing craft. And I have fond memories of cozying up on the couch with a book. It was something I looked forward to. If you follow my blog, you’ll remember my New Year’s post declaring doing more things in 2023 that bring me joy. If reading didn’t make it list, charge it to my head and not my heart, because it’s there.

Through a combination of physical books and audio books, I completed at least 20 books in 2022. Below are a few of my favorites!

Sis Don’t Settle: How to be Smart in Matters of the Heart by Faith Jenkins

Just As I Am by Cicely Tyson

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Reid

You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Awaeke Emezi

The Other Black Girl by Zakiyah Dallia Harris

Rare Danger by Beverly Jenkins

2023 Has Arrived

Happy New Year!

I started thinking about what I want to do differently in the new year a couple of weeks ago. I’m not calling them resolutions because they’re not just for 2023. They’re from this day forward. At the top of my list is swimming, skating, and hula hooping. When I was on my sorority anniversary trip in Cabo, I envied the ease with which one of my line sisters woke up every morning that we were there and went to swim laps in the infinity pool before breakfast. I learned how to swim for the second time about 15 years ago but I didn’t keep it up. I learned because I wanted to stay fit with fun activities that wouldn’t make me feel like I was exercising. Hence why skating and hula hooping are on the agenda.

Next up is traveling. I took two trips in 2022, six months apart. The first one was my friends 40th birthday in New York in July. The second was the Cabo trip in December. I like the idea of spacing out the trips. It allowed for financial recovery from the trip before the next one. So now I’m thinking of a small weekend trip in the first quarter of the year, followed by a bigger one the second half. Likely destinations are Washington, DC and Jamaica.

Next up–writing. I can’t say it enough but National Novel Writing Month really did change my perspective on writing. It’s not enough for me to resolve to write more this year. It’s easy to write more. But it’s another whole thing to produce more writing projects. Finish the writing projects that I’ve started. I have approximately four projects I’ve been working on concurrently. None of which, except one, that had a projected date of completion and that didn’t even happen. At the close of the year, two are near complete and the other two are in the beginning stages. So, I devised a plan to complete all five by the first quarter on 2023.

One will be completed before this week is out. A week ago, I learned about writing in blocks of time. What I used to do was look a day off work and say, “I’m going to write today.” No specific start or cut-off time. That method hasn’t gotten my where I really desire to be. Last week I reached out a fellow writer who joined one of my NaNoWriMo sessions and I remembered her talking about a group she was in that helped be a more focused, productive writer. Heart Breathings Writing Community. I joined the Facebook group and subscribed to the group owners YouTube channel. I watched a video where she described the writing block system. I implemented it that same day. And that’s why I’m almost finished with one of my projects!

Now granted, I still mess up, even with this new method of writing in place. Like watching T.V. or answering calls when I’m writing. But there have been some wins, too, along the way. Like NOT answering a call when I was writing and pushing the guilt away when it came for me. The caller survived over remaining 30 minutes of my scheduled writing time.

I am still a work in progress, in ever area of my life. But I’ll never stop seeking to be better.

May you have a prosperous and blessed 2023!

NaNoWriMo–Wrap-up

Wow! The end of this National Novel Writing Month came quick. I can’t say it snuck up on me because I was very in tune to every day. Especially those days when the struggle was real. I’m posting this wrap-up message on December 6th because on November 30th I was in flight to Los Cabo Mexico to celebrate my 10th anniversary as a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. This trip was THE best way to wind down from a month of writing, something I’ve never done before.

The experience has been nothing less than life changing for my writing life! In these weeks I have literally learned that I can do hard things. Specifically, I learned that I can prioritize my writing over people that I love and events that I’d like to attend, and the world will not fall apart. The people I love and like will still love and like me. And most importantly, I learned that people will respect my commitment to my writing IF I respect the commitment I set for my writing.

I’m not totally disappointed that I didn’t hit the goal of 50K words (18,230 to be exact) I commend myself and everyone else who participated in the challenge for just trying. This was not an easy task to take one. And being a “pancer”, someone who does little to no plotting and planning. I literally pulled an idea that I’ve been stewing over for the last couple years and starting writing it. I had the beginning of the story somewhat planned but as with the writing process, I could already tell it would have to be revised. Nevertheless, I’m excited to have a start to this novel, which will be my fourth!

Here’s a list of other key takeaways from my participation in NaNoWriMo 2022:

  1. It’s okay to talking to people about what I’m writing. This might be a writers’ thing, but I don’t usually talk to friends about what I’m writing. Honestly, I don’t think they really care. Most times I feel like whoever I’m talking to is waiting for me to finish talking about it so they can carry on with what they wanted to talk to me about. I’m usually the “listener” of my friends or family. However, this month I made a concerted effort to share with family and friends that I was working on a new story during the challenge. And that usually led to them inquiring about the story so I told them.
  2. There’s an additional benefit to sharing my writing with others, even if they’re not writers. I received a great suggestion from the dater my cousin brought along to an event we both attended. In sharing with my cousin about my story, which is about two caregivers, in different age groups, ethnicities, and personalities on a road trip after both of their husbands die, I mentioned wanting to go beyond the black/white friendship and involve a ethnicity we don’t often see in African American stories. His date suggested a Native American and I was immediately intrigued. Interestingly, I was scheduled to attend a webinar the following week about Thanksgiving from the Native American perspective. Although my character choices had nothing to do with why I signed up for the webinar, I felt like her suggesting that was a sign of how I should move forward. I wouldn’t have received that if I didn’t share my idea in the first place.
  3. This might be a given but it’s solidified in my mind now. I must have a goal for any writing that I start. A blog post, essay, short story, or novel. Once I move from my story conception to writing, I have to give myself a solid goal for completing the first draft. Believe it or not, I have not been doing that. There have been times I set a goal but didn’t sit down and determine how I was going to do it. This challenge made me do that and, for that, I am forever changed. Going forward, with anything I want to do, I’m going to set a goal and create a plan for how to accomplish it.

So thank you National Novel Writing Month for being a great teacher of 2022!

I’m curious…what has challenged you on your writing journey or any other journey you’ve embarked on? Post in the comments.

Til next time,

LA

In Writing–NaNoWriMo Week 3

Things have picked up. After the struggle of week 2, I kept pushing and I’m not disappointed.

What I am is tired.

Yesterday, before I had to work at four in the afternoon, I laid in bed, literally all day. Writing is an exercise of the mind and it is just as draining as physical exercise. I didn’t worry about writing during the day because I knew I would have time when I was on desk at the library. That’s how slow it is in the evening at the community college library that I work at on Thursdays.

The sleep did me good, though, on many levels. I woke up the next day refreshed and recharged. I got up and out early to take care of some car maintenance that was on the schedule for the day before. Again, I knew I would have time to write on my afternoon shift at the library.

I’m proud that I have not missed a day of writing since this challenge began. My numbers are climbing, just not as quickly as I would have liked for this particular week. Truthfully, I am feeling a little defeated, but I’m not allowing that to keep me pushing forward. Why? Because on November 30, 2022, I will have a draft–50k words or not– of a new novel. And that’s a major accomplishment in itself.

Still, I’m chasing the 50 with 9 days to go!

Wish me luck!

LA

In Writing: NaNoWriMo Week 2

Last week, the second week of the challenge, was a struggle. I started off with a bang on the first two chapters of my manuscript. It wasn’t too hard because I had had that part mapped out in my head for quite some time. However, once I completed those chapters, I struggled getting the words for the next two chapters. I was immediately irritated that I’m not more of a strategic writer. In the world of NaNoWriMo, I’m what they call a panser–a person who writes by the seat of their pants. And then in the middle of the week I had to take on grandma duty to babysit my two granddaughters while their mom-my daughter–had some “Me” time…in London! When she asked me to keep them several months ago, I had not decided to be participate in this 50K word novel writing challenge. At that time I had only planned to host write-ins with my library for all the other writers. Nevertheless, I still thought I would have been more productive because the truth is I get most of my writing done when I’m not at home. So I really thought having the girls wouldn’t have affected me. However, I hadn’t considered how the anxiousness of this commitment to babysit 2 under 2 was going to effect my ability to be creative when I did have time to write. Then I was bummed and down in the dumps that I was barely writing 500 words a day when the previous week I was killing it with at least 1,000.

So you can imagine how bleak my outlook became on accomplishing my goal. Today starts week 3 and I’m nowhere near the 50K mark. Not even close enough to half.

But I’m not giving up. I received an email from the NaNoWriMo organization talking about just what I was experiencing.

The writer made reference to this second week of NaNoWriMo being the hardest of the challenge. Why? Because it’s common to lose that momentum of the first week. It’s kind of like when you get an idea for a book and you start writing for the fun of it. Then you hit the spot where you lose the motivation. To keep writing when you’re not inspired or motivated in what us writers like to call the “work” of being a writer. You have to write when you don’t feel like. You have to write when you feel like it’s not making sense to you. You have to write when none of the fancy words in your vocabulary are coming to mind.

Instantly, I felt less alone and more inspired to stay the course. So after I dropped my daughter and granddaughters off at their apartment close to midnight last night, I decided that the next day was my fresh start.

I woke up this morning and grabbed my laptop and got to work!

I’m still in this race!

In Writing: NaNoWriMo Week 1 Report

Whew! Seven days of consecutive writing! You might find this hard to believe, but I’ve never done this before in my writing life. I’ve always let something or another stop me from a daily writing practice. That’s why participating in this challenge has been so important to me. I really want to get in the habit of writing everyday, especially when I have a project in the works. While this is exhausting, I have never been more proud of myself. But even with the progress I’m making, I want to give full disclosure of my experiences, my triumphs and my trials.

Triumphs:

Writing everyday

Writing in my office

Scheduling virtual write-ins

Participating in in-person write-ins

Updating my progress on the NaNoWriMo site

Sharing my journey with others (great for accountability)

Searching for accountability buddies

Trials:

Making corrections to WIP

Rereading what I wrote the previous writing session

Forgetting to record my starting word count before I start writing

Constantly checking my word count

Making TikTok content during my writing sessions

Dipping back into my old previous WIP

What’s next? My second personal virtual write-in of the month. Join me if you’d like.

LaCharmine Jefferson is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Writing With LA-National Novel Writing Month
Time: Nov 13, 2022 11:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Every week on Sun, until Nov 27, 2022, 3 occurrence(s)
Nov 13, 2022 11:00 AM
Nov 20, 2022 11:00 AM
Nov 27, 2022 11:00 AM
Please download and import the following iCalendar (.ics) files to your calendar system.
Weekly: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/tZcvc-CprDMpG9Zd4zrDXXdFaEDqAwtLZdDP/ics?icsToken=98tyKuGrrD8jG9adsxiFRpwqAI-gXevzplxejfpnmEv_EQRrWgfQN8dmI5NoBPTq

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83249128312?pwd=aG9YcVpheUFUeEFCZHZ1dW5YMVI3UT09

Meeting ID: 832 4912 8312
Passcode: 417693
One tap mobile
+16469313860,,83249128312#,,,,417693# US +19292056099,,83249128312#,,,,417693# US (New York)

Dial by your location
+1 646 931 3860 US
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+1 719 359 4580 US
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Meeting ID: 832 4912 8312
Passcode: 417693
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kbhSSK9OX8

Writing With LA–NaNoWriMo 2022

Here it is for the month of National Novel Writing Month.

LaCharmine Jefferson is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Writing With LA-National Novel Writing Month
Time: Nov 6, 2022 11:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Every week on Sun, until Nov 27, 2022, 4 occurrence(s)
Nov 6, 2022 11:00 AM
Nov 13, 2022 11:00 AM
Nov 20, 2022 11:00 AM
Nov 27, 2022 11:00 AM
Please download and import the following iCalendar (.ics) files to your calendar system.
Weekly: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/tZcvc-CprDMpG9Zd4zrDXXdFaEDqAwtLZdDP/ics?icsToken=98tyKuGrrD8jG9adsxiFRpwqAI-gXevzplxejfpnmEv_EQRrWgfQN8dmI5NoBPTq

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83249128312?pwd=aG9YcVpheUFUeEFCZHZ1dW5YMVI3UT09

Meeting ID: 832 4912 8312
Passcode: 417693
One tap mobile
+16469313860,,83249128312#,,,,417693# US +19292056099,,83249128312#,,,,417693# US (New York)

Dial by your location
+1 646 931 3860 US
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)
+1 309 205 3325 US
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 689 278 1000 US
+1 719 359 4580 US
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 360 209 5623 US
+1 386 347 5053 US
+1 507 473 4847 US
+1 564 217 2000 US
+1 669 444 9171 US
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
Meeting ID: 832 4912 8312
Passcode: 417693
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kbhSSK9OX8

In Writing: Breaking News

Just when I got my mojo back for my current WIP, November 1st is one day away.

You know what November 1st is, right?

No?

Let me tell you…

It’s the start of National Novel Writing Month!!!!

And for the first time in about five years, I’m participating with a BRAND NEW project!

Huh? You might be saying. “LA, how are you moving on to another project when you’re already working on one?

Haha! I’m glad you asked! The answer is this…

It’s necessary.

The story I’m working on now is already written. I’m in the rewriting and revision stage for that book. National Novel Writing Month is a challenge for writers to write a new 50K word novel in 30 days. The concept, which I fully understand now, is to spend the month of November straight writing. Not reading what you wrote yesterday and making corrections (also known as editing). At the end of the month, the participant is not expected to have a “ready to publish” novel. That’s what I used to think. Instead, the participant is expected to have a rough first draft, a good start, a story in need of major revisions.

This…I can do.

I’ve had the concept of the story rolling around in my head for about 3-5 years. I actually intend on it being a screenplay, but the novelist in me must write the full story first.

I’m excited. I’m nervous. I’m scared. There’s already easily five days that I likely won’t be writing AND that’s not even including the holidays. So that means I’m going to have to go double time on my available writing days.

I registered the library where I work as a Come Write In space in which I’ll be hosting four virtual writing sessions. And I think I’m going to add a few from my personal zoom account as well. Make sure you’re connected with me on IG @authorlajefferson for regular updates.

Best,

LA

In Writing: An Unexpected Hiatus

I’m really not a writer who needs “life” shit to happen to me. I BS enough with my writing all on my own. But, of course, “life” shit happens. At the tail end of August, when I was preparing myself for entering the empty nest phase of my life, taking my youngest child to college he selected, my oldest child drops a bomb on me.

“Umm…Mom, me and the girls need to come stay with you for a few weeks until my apartment is ready.”

Okay. I say. What else was there to say? “No. You and my 2 year old and 5 month old granddaughters can not come stay with me temporarily as you and your husband go through this separation.”

No. The reply was not an option. I am a mother. I am a grandmother. I am a helper. I am a nurturer.

Sooooo, for three weeks, I was full time grandparenting while juggling these two part-time jobs, with full time responsibilities AND trying to supply emotional support to my daughter.

My doll babies

It was rough, y’all. And that is an understatement. I literally did not have the mental capacity to write anything. I don’t even think I opened the damned Google doc. If it I did, it was probably to say, “Dammit! Why can’t you edit yourself?”

The three weeks ended. But it took my mind another few weeks to adjust foreign and sudden silence.

AND THEN October came. Me and my sister’s birthday month. Need I say more?

Sooooo, a few days ago when I came up for air, I finally opened the document and actually exhaled. It was like seeing an old friend that I didn’t realize I had been missing.

Pre-birthday fun with my sister, daughter, cousin, & friend!

Seeing my words with fresh eyes was what I really needed. The writing has recommenced.