WSW: Writer Seeking Writer For Mutual Ass-Kicking

Uhhh, shut up, creativity. We'll start the novel tomorrow, ok?

I write. All the time. For work, on this blog, when I’m putting resumes together, when I’m writing stories. When I’m making grocery lists, penning thank you letters, or writing out bills (gag).

Yet there’s something keeping me from being as productive and prolific with my fiction work as I want to be. What is it? Oh, just accountability is all.

You see,  I do really well when I have a deadline and someone waiting on a finished product from me. This is probably why I loved my low-residency MFA program so much. Packets of work were due to mentors by the first Monday of every month. I could write freely because there were perimeters around the projects– everything had to get done by a due date, no questions asked.

In a backwards kind of way, having restrictions around my creative process actually gave me more freedom to take risks and try new things, because all it took was the push to just write.

This also explains why I’m having a hard time self-motivating when it comes to working on my novel and churning out short stories.

No one in the world cares whether or not I get that writing done. I’m not answering to anyone. There are no consequences if I don’t pump out 3 chapters this week and revise 2 short stories before the month ends. The only consequence is that I feel lousy about myself, but as a writer, that comes with the territory from time to time.

So this is a classified ad of sorts. If you’re a writer who also needs some accountability and ass-kicking, holler at me.

I’m looking for someone who is up for the following:

  • Weekly check-ins with each other to discuss our progress on particular projects
  • Mutual ass-kicking, guilt-tripping, and incentive-offering
  • A long-term writing relationship that will provide both of us with a trusted ear, a reliable eye, and an honest opinion
  • Fun, silliness, and a lot of not-taking-ourselves-too-seriously
  • But at the same time, able to buckle down, give and take feedback, and write like the dickens

Does this sound like something you’ve been needing, too? Leave a comment or shoot me an email and we’ll chat!

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Where Writers Write: Christine Bagley

This week we welcome my good friend, former MFA classmate, and fiction writer Christine Bagley to the Where Writers Write series. We met at Lesley University and have been close writing friends since. Remember– if you want to be featured in the Where Writers Write series, email me at kristinoffilerwrites@gmail.com!

What is your writing space like?

In a room that’s shaped like a large shoebox (13’ X 6’), I sit at my desk where four windows provide me a view of a 63-acre private estate. A stone wall separates the estate from my property where wild turkeys, deer, fox, coyotes, rabbits, and woodchucks roam the woods. This view of Mother Nature allows my mottled mind to relax then wander, so it’s free to create unforgettable characters, in-depth storylines, and transport my readers to a place they’ve never been before. I often daydream about knights on horseback and animals that transform themselves into humans, like the dark turkeys that gather on my lawn remind me of a witches’ coven.

I listen to Cinemix on my computer, a station that features movie soundtracks like Gladiator, Russia House, Braveheart, Tuck Everlasting, and The Last of The Mohicans. Soundtracks set a mood for me and I find them inspirational and thought provoking.

What’s something unique and interesting about your writing space? / If you could have any writing space in the world, what would it look like and why?

In this writing refuge, I’m surrounded by manuscripts, three bookcases, and a bulletin board filled with post its of inspiration. Lucky charms and statuettes like the Angel of Patience and my grandfather’s pipe, sit on the windowsill. Only one more thing would make my literary haven perfection; the sight and sound of a mighty ocean with frothy waves that peak and splash over the stone wall.

Do you keep a writing routine? If so, what is your routine?

I try to write most Wednesday and Friday afternoons, Saturday and Sunday mornings, and on the train from Andover to Boston three days a week. My weekend mornings often stretch out until late afternoon after which I need a nap because my head is so full of scenes and dialogue and vivid descriptions. I work on two to three projects at a time to allow myself the perspective I need.

Christine Bagley is a fiction writer from Massachusetts. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University and teaches English composition to foreign national students. In her writing, she’s particularly interested in serious, often tragic subjects injected with wry humor. At this time, she has five stories in submission. 

Where Writers Write: Alyssa Martino

Welcome to this week’s edition of Where Writers Write, an exciting series here on the White Space where we’ll get a glimpse into the places and spaces where writers create their art. Alyssa is a writer I met online, one of the best ways to connect with like-minded, talented writers! If you’re interested in sharing your space with us, shoot me an email at kristinoffilerwrites@gmail.com.
Cozy writing area. Alas, you have also now seen where I sleep. Too personal?
Hi, everyone! Thanks to Kristin for this great blog idea and for inviting me to contribute. I’m glad to be here. Relieved, actually. Especially because I am but one more application away from completing my 13th (yes, 13th!) application to MFA in Creative Writing-Nonfiction programs. Kristin was a huge help to me through the process–informing me about her  experience receiving an MFA in fiction and providing hugely helpful substantive feedback on my writing sample. So, readers, cross your fingers for me! It’s all up to the writing gods now.
I’ve always loved writing. Now, as a Copywriter/Editor for a medical association, I’m able to fuel this desire daily. However, I didn’t always want to write about a topic as specific as radiology (Yup, X-rays, CT scans, and all that fun stuff – though I’ve written about some pretty interesting subjects!). That’s why I began freelancing in the evenings and on weekends–an endeavor that indefinitely requires a totally rockin’ space! Freelancing has allowed me to follow my passions, like about social justice, career trends, and profiling cool people in local newspapers. Here’s where and how I continue writing even AFTER my 9-to-5 editorial job.
 
What is your writing space like?

I used to sit on the floor of my college dorm room with my back against the door, as if I was shielding my lap top from intruders. Needless to say, I’m a big fan of writing in weird places. But now, I write on my bed. What can I say? It’s comfortable. Warm. Soft. And I feel trapped by chairs and desks. Plus there’s room to spread out my papers and notes around me.
Do you keep a writing routine? If so, what is your routine?
I don’t have a routine. I just write when the lightening strikes! But usually it’s late at night, and since I still work a full-time job, that’s best done on weekends most often.
 

What’s something unique and interesting about your writing space?

I recently had to move my bed around. It used to be framed under the window but my apartment was getting very cold when winter began, so I quickly did some rearranging. Related to writing, I’m pretty sure I frequently get red pen marks on the corners of my very nice and pricey duvet cover. Oops!
 
If you could have any writing space in the world, what would it look like and why?
I think it would be ever evolving. It would be outside when I needed inspiration, inside when I needed a cozy sweatshirt and slippers, hot when I was cold, cool when I was warm. It wouldn’t be static. Some days, it might be on a balcony with a view. Or other days, I would be right IN that view, on a beach or in the wild or near some beautiful, colorful city. Can they invent a place that includes all of that?
Alyssa Martino is a writer and editor just outside Washington, D.C. She loves digging for stories that connect people, place and possibility. Visit her site, www.alyssacmartino.com.
Thanks to Alyssa for sharing her space with us! Tell us what you think in the comments– do you write in bed? What does your dream writing space look like?

Writing Conferences: Worth The Cash?

From January 2009 through January 2011, I got to attend MFA residencies in Cambridge twice a year. That meant every 6 months I got to hang out with fellow writers, take seminars, attend workshops, listen to readings, talk to published writers about craft and the industry, and just spend time being fully immersed in the world of writing.

I’m not going to lie-I was usually a bundle of mixed emotions during residencies. On one hand, I loved being around my peers and our teachers. Some of the greatest people on earth converged at Lesley University for those week-long residencies. On the other hand, I tended to stress myself out and get homesick. I know, getting homesick while being only about an hour from home is lame.

So now I’m wondering something: would it be worth it for me to invest in a writing conference next year?

I miss talking about writing, listening to speakers, adding tools to my writer work box. Might a conference, like the Writer’s Digest Conference or the AWP Conference (or-gasp-both!) be a good idea for me? It wouldn’t involved a huge investment in time like an MFA residency, but I have no idea what they’re like and how much writers actually take away from them. Are they crowded and hectic? Organized and informational? A little of everything?

And, more importantly, are they worth the money?

I’d love to hear from fellow writers who have gone to conferences or are considering one. What’s your take on it?