Always Learning

My writer’s group had a workshop this weekend. It was a real treat to just go over some basics together that may be overlooked in a normal writer’s group. Our primary focus for this workshop was story arc, but we also talked about getting the reader hooked and about setting goals. 

I enjoyed the workshop and learned a lot. Some big issues we all needed help working on were:

  • Knowing when and how to get the story started
  • Making ourselves actually finish things we have started
  • Use more action and dialogue to communicate key elements instead of passive voice “info dumping”
  • Have more confidence in ourselves as writers. Learning to trust ourselves and our voice seemed to be a very common goal 

Part of our discussion was about establishing good writing habits. I’ll freely admit I was far better at this when I was in my 365 day writing challenge last year and feel I need to get back to that. I have taken on additional responsibilities at my full time job, and have a very busy family life, but I have truly missed the habits I had established of writing every day. So one of the things I decided after my workshop today was to get back to daily writing. 

Beyond a commitment to establishing a daily writing habit again, I need to set some solid writing goals for myself. Our leader asked us today what our 30 day writing goals were, what our 6 month writing goals were and what our goals were for the next year. I was nowhere near setting realistic ones, but I need to be. Where am I headed? What do I want to see happening? How will I make it happen? 

I’m still figuring it all out and I am most definitely still learning a lot, all the time. I don’t think there are many of us who aren’t still learning something new. 

Being a part of a group of other writers who are largely in the same boat has helped me immeasurably. It helps to see I am not the only one struggling with getting things finished. I am not the only one who lets doubts creep in sometimes. 

How about you? Are you still learning? Do you have a group that helps support and push you? Do you surround yourself with others who are “in the same boat” as you? Do they help you not feel so alone? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. 

Thanks & have a great week!

~CJS

Days of Each Life

I went for a regular doctor’s appointment this week, and before I scare you with the title or beginning by talking about a doctor’s visit, I’ll say upfront this isn’t a post saying I only have a few months to live or something. Fortunately, so far, knock on wood, I’m doing okay, so no worries there. 

I mention the visit to the doctor though because we had an interesting conversation. I am lucky to have a doctor who likes to chat a bit while doing the routine heart check. He has kids the same general age as mine so we talked awhile about my recent vacation and about my oldest son’s obsession with roller coasters. 

We also talked about aging (I turn the big 4-0 at the beginning of 2016, so it’s on my mind). He told me of a patient of his, who is on a weight loss & improved fitness journey, that told him he had calculated the number of days he had lived in his life so far compared with how many days he would have left if he lives to an average old age. We both agreed it seemed a bit morbid since the fellow had less days left than days he had already lived, but the guy used the breakdown of days as motivation to make each day count.

I do not want to count out the days lived so far or do the calculation of possible days left, but I liked the incentive to make the days count. We shouldn’t have to wait for a big health concern, for example, to crop up that reminds us our days won’t last forever. We could all do with a reminder to not take a day for granted.

If we stop to think of our days as not being unlimited and each day having such value, it can serve as a great motivator. What do I want to accomplish in my life? What is really important to me? I need to figure those things out, then find out how to make them happen. 

One of the most important things in my world is making sure my kids have the best opportunities and happiest lives possible. My days are filled with activities that I hope give them what they need and want. Tonight that meant going to Six Flags for a few hours, though it probably would have been way easier to stay home and chill. But I make myself go out there because my hope is that the kids will remember these good times. If I only have so many days left (nope, not counting!), I hope to each day make great memories with my guys. 

I have other goals as well, mostly having to do with my writing. If each day counts, then shouldn’t I be more dedicated to getting projects written and completed? Absolutely! It means a lot to look back and see the efforts I have put in and have something to show for it. 

What do you do to make your days count? What is important to you? What do you want to accomplish before you die? How can you make that happen? They are great questions to ask yourself. Feel free to tell me about it in the comments! 

Thanks for reading and have a great week! 

~CJS

A Visit to San Antonio, Texas 

Traveling makes me happy.  This past week we were fortunate to get away for a little while on a small trip. 

For our summer vacation, my husband and kiddos took a little trip down to San Antonio from our home in the Dallas area. It’s not a terribly long drive (about 5 hours without traffic or stops), but it is remarkable how it feels quite different from the part of Texas where we live. It’s no secret that Texas is a big state, full of diverse places and people and culture, so it shouldn’t surprise me when I get a chance to explore to see how different a new area can be from our own. 

We have enjoyed exploring Texas with the kids now and hope to venture further out as the kids get a little bigger. But even if we stay in Texas for awhile, it’s cool to realize how much there is still to explore. :)

For my post this week I thought I would share some pictures so you can take a little trip as well. Enjoy! And have a great week! ~CJS

   
San Antonio Riverwalk from our boat tour.

 A Mariachi band surprise serenedes a mom as she walked with her baby down the Riverwalk.

   
 
I love all the bridges to cross from one side of Riverwalk to the other side. I also enjoyed the flowers. :)

   
Beautiful mosiac art 

 
Tower of the Americas
   
Alamo Street 

    
    
    
The Alamo

 
Beautiful tree in the courtyard near the Alamo

   
    
 
Lots of rock walls like this, with the plants growing all along them. Very pretty.

   
 
Stained glass at entry to Sea World San Antonio

  

Hot

When you live in Texas, as I do, one of the worst situations you can find yourself in on a hot summer day is to be without air conditioning or to have your air conditioner on the fritz. Running into a rattlesnake is probably worse. Getting bitten by a brown recluse spider also would be very bad. July with no A/C, though, is no picnic. 

I mention this because I write this while sitting in my living room, surrounded by portable fans blasting, drinking ice cold water and hoping that the A/C starts working again. I have been hoping this since yesterday afternoon, so I don’t have too much hope for that without some assistance from our trusty heating and air repairman. My hope, therefore, is now primarily that the repair doesn’t take too long or cost us too much. Fingers crossed for me, okay? :) 

Given my current concerns over it being hot, it was funny that the prompt for this week’s Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge had to do with heat. My friend and fellow blogger, AJ Prince, has done many of these 99 word (no more, no less) Carrot Ranch blog weekly flash fic challenges. I have often thought I ought to give it a go. Since this week’s is so on point with my current situation, I decided this week was as good a time as any. :)

Oh and just a note about my recently erratic blog posting schedule – I am sorry for the inconsistency, but I do plan to get back to my weekly posts on Mondays.  Thanks for stopping by! Have a great week! 

~CJS

Hot

“I need a margarita!” Dave said. 

“I need a cold beer.” Kyle said. 

“I’ll take anything.” Miles said, steering them from the course toward the bar.

“How about just throwing out our scores?” Dave suggested. 

“Done! And I’ll get the first round.” Miles said. 

“Man, it’s a hot one.” Kyle said as they gulped cold drinks. 

“I was ruined at Hole 2 and went down from there.” Dave said. 

“We all sucked” Phil said. “We survived. That’s all.”

“I’ll tell Judy I played my best ever though.” Dave admitted. 

Everyone nodded and laughingly toasted, “To our best game ever!” 

5 Day Photo Challenge Day 5!

I accepted a challenge to post a picture or a poem or something about a picture that inspires us. Today is Day 5! Thanks for following along with me. :)
  

Life Lessons In a Bounce House 

1) Every new person who comes along could be a new friend. 

2) Just because you are the biggest and strongest doesn’t give you an excuse to be mean. 

3) Just because you are the youngest or smallest doesn’t give you the right to be mean.

4) Just don’t be mean. :)

5) Always be kind and considerate of those around you. 

6) Look around for others who aren’t quite so sure of things and help them enjoy the ride. 

7) Sometimes you gotta stop and take a break to rest. 

8) It can be a lot of work but it’s worth it. 

9) Just have fun! 

5 Day Photo Challenge Day 4

I accepted a challenge to post a story/poem/other every day for 5 consecutive days inspired each day by a new photo. It started raining in the early evening tonight and I snapped this picture.

Tonight’s poem is free verse – details found on Shadow Poetry again. 
Enjoy! 

  

  
Early Evening Rain
The sun had not yet set

instead was merely dipping low –

obscured by broken bits

of rain-filled clouds.

The sun refused to go

to bed just yet 

and shook off the cover

of a building storm cloud.

The girl walked slowly

twirling her umbrella 

as she left her office

much later than she liked.

She saw the sun’s efforts

in the reflection

on the rainy, wet sidewalk.

She smiled and 

kept walking

knowing rather sadly

that the universe 

would not let the sun 

have its way.

It would be dark soon

and the storms were

headed their way,

but still 

there was beauty

in the light 

that remained,

and in the new puddles

where the last

of the sunlight

could dance. 

5 Day Photo Challenge Day 3

I accepted a challenge to post a story/poem/etc inspired by a picture every day for 5 days. Today is Day 3. :)

For my selection today, I chose to do a poem. Since I have been trying to learn poetry, I like to play with different forms to try my hand at different patterns and rhyme. This form is a septuplet, which I found on the great poetry resource site, Shadow Poetry

I hope you enjoy, and I will see you tomorrow for Day 4. :)
  

Ticking
Clocks tick, 

consistently, 

in measured beats.


Time 

stops –

and starts again,

when lovers meet.